For quite a while I am hearing of how entertainment needs a home and how it needs a proper base. This is all to do with a venue and a well outfitted one able to seat at least 1,000 comfortably. I must agree that would be a great feat once it can be achieved, but how and when will it be done.
We are constantly on the Government’s case asking them to do all sorts of things with the Empire Theatre, and this was something I was hearing long before I got involved in entertainment. I have been performing since 1992, so do the maths and you will see how long it has been that entertainers have been petitioning.
I have seen many places of entertainment collapse over the years. St. Lawrence Gap is now like a ghost town with only a couple of clubs opening for patrons. The After Dark since closing has never been able to regain the favour it once had. I have seen many business owners try and fail miserably to capture an audience in that venue under a new name. Why is that? I wished I had an answer.
The After Dark used to be a place with a dress code where mature people could go and have a good time with no harassment. From the time it started to cater to youthful shows and events, the dress code disappeared, the mature people disappeared, and a couple of violent acts tarnished the venue. Now that another proprietor has it the same has continued. There was another violent act there some time ago, and even though it was not on the inside it was on location and it would appear that the spot is again cursed.
Many of us had a blast there and who can forget the “sweat box”. Some have had some rather close dances in there alongside the mirrors with the speakers blasting their eardrums. Dances with faces which you could barely make out in the very dim lighting, only to be shock and bemused when walking out at 3 a.m. to see what miracles could have been achieved in the dark of that room.
Entertainment has now witnessed the closure of the Plantation Garden Theatre, which means no more Tropical Spectacular, and one less place for tourists to be entertained and local artiste losing out on a place to perform weekly, which means loss of income. Whatever the reason is for the closure, we cannot dwell on it.
The question is: What will become of the venue. Will it join the Pepper Pot or will it become housing or offices for others? I don’t know, but I would hate to see that happen. I would love to see someone take the venue and keep it as a place for entertainment — but the question is who.
The Government has its hands full with so many other things that I fail to see it go for such a venue for the sake of entertainment. I don’t believe the ones charged with looking after culture and promoting here as a tourist destination see what lack of entertainment is doing to this place.
Times over, tourist lament the lack of entertainment spots and lack of live entertainment. They can only take sunburn for so long and eat fish in Oistins on a Friday night. What about the other days of the week?
Entertainers need to do what has not been achieved for as long as I know myself. They need to come together and do something for themselves. When people see you trying they are more likely to be interested in you than when you just lament and cry for aid all the time.
We wait on the NCF and FAS to do their shows and complain when we don’t get what we want as far as a pick on the shows. We fret about the money paid to the foreign acts but fail to acknowledge that it is not our show. The only way we will have things in our favour is when we decide to do our own. We have more than enough talented minds here to create our own shows; solicit sponsors like anyone else and sell ourselves as a preferred package.
Why settle for a few hundred dollars when thousands can be made. It will call for sacrifice and hard work but the end results can be worth it in the long run. Maybe then we could look and buying a venue for ourselves instead of just a fancy car to impress others that we have arrived. Arrived where I ask?
I am longing to find a few other entertainers who are willing to collaborate in raising the money to get what they want. I may be able to find a couple but most are just a lot of talk. They make you feel they are with you and do what has been happening long before my time; they back out or try to poke out the others’ eyes.
Only when we as entertainers can truly come together and do something as one will we be able to get through. No one owes us anything. We owe it to ourselves to be successful and it goes further than a car and fancy jewellery. What about the future of this island and it’s young and up and coming entertainers?
Many of us will not be able to perform for the crowds we used to for much longer and not because we may not be able to but because we could lose favour with the people too. We can’t continue to survive off Crop-Over once a year or sing in hotels for a couple hundred dollars a night. I know I am not about that so I am going to try to achieve the bigger picture.
Become entrepreneurs and take risks and stop being cry babies. If only I could find three more who are willing to take the chance with me. Maybe I need to go alone to achieve that goal.