Desperate times - Industry players push for reopening
Calls for a phased reopening of the entertainment sector have today been renewed as key industry players say they have been suffering in silence for far too long.
Dream Entertainment Limited's Managing Director, Scott Dunn, re-ignited the conversation surrounding the prolonged lockdown last Friday when he penned a letter to the authorities citing the hardships the entertainment sector is facing. His sentiments were echoed by selector Ricky Trooper who told THE STAR that it is becoming clearer that the Government could care less about the entertainment industry and its ecosystem.
"We a come on to February now which a go make one year since the entertainment industry shut down completely and nobody nuh think dem can say nothing. We just really see say the people who have the powers dem nuh rate the industry," he said. "A fumes we a run pan, innu, and weh start happen is dat people start keep dem thing regardless because dem can't wait pan the Government cuz if dem do dat, dem ago dead fi hungry. And a das why we a have so much confrontation wid police because people frustrated and just out deh a do dem thing. Dem say dem a go watch after Christmas fi see if we have a spike. We nuh have no spike and we still can't hear nothing? Good God man."
Like Dunn, Trooper also said the authorities have been highly hypocritical in their reservations about the re-opening of the sector, noting that hotels are hosting parties.
"So wah, we can't do it too? Some people fraid fi talk but a dat a gwaan and a big hypocrite thing dat," he said. Dunn, in his letter, said that after observing operations at local hotels, he has concluded that the activities there are no different from what would be taking place at a regular outdoor event.
"We want protocols, we want guidelines, whatever it takes to operate, please just tell us. We want to put food on our table like every other person in the labour force ... we need to reopen the events industry as this cannot continue," he wrote.
But a set date for the re-opening of the sector may still be wishful thinking. In an interview with THE STAR, Howard McIntosh, chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board. said while discussions have been ongoing between the relevant ministries and some key industry players, they are still waiting on a response from the Government about the reopening of entertainment and sport.
"We do not know why the Government hasn't said anything yet. What we do know is that the sector has been reeling. The last report coming out of STATIN (The Statistical Institute of Jamaica) for October shows that the sector with the greatest fall-off was in arts and entertainment. I would 'guess-timate' that the loss in the sector is now approaching 100 billion," he said.
When THE STAR ran its own check of the STATIN report, it showed that the Jamaican economy declined by 10.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019. It also showed that in October 2020, the Employed Labour Force decreased by 7.4 per cent, with the largest decline recorded in arts and entertainment.