More questions than answers as Ministry explains US$5000 tour grant to Etana

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etana-photo-2.jpgThe Entertainment Ministry has explained that the programme through which Reggae artise Etana was granted US$5000 to help with her tour, was initiated in 2013 by then Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment's junior minister Damian Crawford as a way to enhance the reggae brand and provide additional marketing for destination Jamaica.

"We know from that that it has been music -- reggae music -- that is the essence of the Jamaican brand. Knowing that and the history of Jamaican music and its pull for destination Jamaica, the Tour Support and Artiste Ambassador Programme was started. Between 2013 and 2015 two persons -- Protoje received US$8,000 and Kabaka Pyramid and the Bebble Rockers received US$1,000 during that particular period. Since then, in 2017 Raging Fyah, when they went on their Everlasting Tour and were nominated for the Grammy, also received (US$3,500) tour support, and this year Etana has received tour support. Freddie McGregor also received tour support in 2016 when he was invited to perform in Bogota as part of a creative city endeavour," she shared.

Wilkinson-McDaniel explained that Etana, who is currently on tour, topped a field of four applicants for the grant, noting that there is a clear process for potential recipients, which begins with applicants submitting their bids to the Entertainment Division where they are vetted and sent to the entertainment advisory board for consideration, then to the permanent secretary for ratification and approval.

She did not say who the other artiste were who had also applied for the grant, or explain why Etana, as a US citizen and a seasoned artistes who ears top dollars, would possibly qualify for this kind of support from the Jamaican government.

The ministry rep, who was there on behalf of Miss Grange who was in Parliament, explained the application process: "You have to complete the entertainment registry application because we require that every person who gets support from us, that you are registered as a bona fide cultural practitioner. You need to indicate the size of the venues so that we can then measure the impact -- how many persons are you going to be reaching at any given time. We also look at who are you touring with. So, for example, in this case Etana is touring with J Boog and Jesse Royal. These are some of the things that the board would consider. It is about expected audience reach in relation to the venue and your social media and marketing plan."

As one blogger pointed out, however, "as well-intentioned the idea to "support" our artistes was, it was bound to result in controversy. The industry is fractious and competitive to say the least, therefore choosing who to give how much was always a recipe for disaster. Numerous artiste claim they don't get support from govt ... and many taxpayers feel its a waste of money. Apart from state sponsored events or prizes I don't believe artistes should be given preferential grants/support firstly because they are just like any other "worker" .. and secondly it will be very difficult to justify why A instead of B."