Etana says US$5,000 grant didn't dent her expenses
Stung by the public outrage that accompanied the announcement that she received a US$5,000 grant from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Etana contemplated giving back the money.
The artiste, who is the Star of The Month, said some of the comments were unsettling.
"I did feel at a moment that I should just give it back. Like, I don't need this, really and truly," she told The STAR.
Etana received the US$5,000 (J$630,000) to support her 32-city tour of the United States. At the time, Olivia Grange, the entertainment minister, said the Artiste Ambassador and Tour Support Programme's aim is to strengthen Brand Jamaica through media, marketing and partnership.
"We believe that the Artiste Ambassador and Tour Support Programme is important to provide support to those artistes who are good ambassadors, who represent Jamaica well, and whose music reflects the message of reggae and that of Jamaica."
The aim of the programme is to use entertainers as the vehicles through which to encourage people to visit Jamaica.
Etana said that the response of the public to the grant may have been different if the public was properly informed.
"I thought it was a lack of knowledge why the people behaved the way they did, and I felt it was the way that it was presented to people that kind of threw them off, because there was no real explanation," Etana said.
She added: "When you say, 'We gave her US$5,000, everybody a guh say, 'Fi wah?' I get that, and I know that when Jamaicans express themselves, it is not always in the kindest way. And I get that too. But it is because dem don't know."
Etana argued that the Artiste Ambassador and Tour Support Programme is an effective tool through which Jamaica is marketed as a tourism destination.
"People would say, why not pay for a commercial? But how long is a commercial going to run? How many people will the commercial guarantee to bring to Jamaica, as opposed to a personal conversation with an artiste about Jamaica after they done fell in love with the music from the performance," she told The STAR.
The artiste argued that if the Government were to entirely fund a tour, the expenses would have been far greater.
"My expenses for my tour is so huge that US$5,000 isn't even a dent in it. My per diem alone was only US$8,000," she said.
Etana's touring company includes four musicians, a background vocalist, as well as an engineer, a salesperson and a driver.
To fully fund such a marketing exercise, Etana posited that they would have to pay for each venue booked for performance; pay the band members, travel expence from Jamaica; pay their salaries (weekly); pay for the band's per diem, as well as hotel bookings. For promotional purposes, they would also need to provide some branded merchandise for giveaways or for purchase.