Musicians’ union calls for entertainment stimulus | Entertainment

Newly installed president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians & Affiliates Union (JFMAU), Lowell Lawson, is calling for a stimulus package and a balanced approach to be taken with regard to the reopening of the padlocked entertainment industry.

“We understand that COVID is here and we commend the moves taken by the Government to contain the virus, but there has to be balance, that’s the key word. Other industries are open but entertainment is still closed, so we need to find the best way to do it. We understand the Government’s perspective but let us take a look at another perspective,” said Lawson, who is a vocalist, guitarist, producer and promoter.

He stated, “We need to look at the countries that did well in managing the virus and take some pointers from them. Instead, we are looking at the ones that didn’t do too well and comparing our situation to theirs. The entertainment sector needs to be reopened responsibly.”

With regard to the stimulus package, Lawson is calling for a sit-down with the powers that be to iron out this issue. “We commend the Government for the first incentive but it has to be looked at again on a wider scale. The members of the fraternity are hurting badly. It’s been more than one year since so many people in the entertainment industry at all levels have been out of work, and the light, water, rent/mortgage and food bills are still there to be paid,” Lawson said.

Eligibility criteria

He outlined that a stimulus package of $40,000 was paid out last year shortly after the pandemic set in and explained that one of the eligibility criteria was being a member of an industry-related organisation. “And we understand why it was done that way. The sector is informal and it was the best way to ensure that persons who are really involved in the industry receive the stimulus,” Lawson stated. But he said that the system didn’t totally work as it should have.

“The package needs to be dealt with better the next time around because some persons signed up for the stimulus package and didn’t receive it,” he said.

On April 13, the Andrew Holness-led administration pledged to invest in the entertainment industry. In his address to Parliament, Holness promised that artistes and other industry players would receive money from the Government to assist with the hardships caused by the lockdown of the entertainment sector.

It was in February that the JFMAU hosted an extraordinary general meeting to discuss issues affecting the entertainment sector and to chart the way forward. The union has been partnering with the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates, and the Negril Entertainment Association to secure essential benefits for their members, while supporting the industry.

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