With the island’s biggest cultural festival now just two months away, the Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce has announced a raft of policies on events, including a one-stop shop for entertainment licences.
The policies are to be found in an imminent “national event strategy” – a range of policies for show promoters and other entertainment operators, minister Dwight Sutherland has said.
While delivering the feature address at the launch of the International Bashment Soca Competition, Sutherland announced that the Government will be implementing a centralised entertainment licence for party promoters and entertainment business owners.
The entertainment licence will replace the liquor licence and also shift the responsibility of licensing from the judiciary to Sutherland’s ministry. Business owners and party promoters will receive an entertainment licence instead of a liquor licence for their activities, according to the minister.
He disclosed: “This entertainment license is intended to facilitate the ease of doing business for event promoters and planners through a much-improved compliance mechanism that will allow them to better meet the government’s regulatory obligation for the execution of an event. These obligations include but are not limited to the payment of withholding tax, alcohol licenses, loud music permissions, and environmental levy contributions.”
Sutherland acknowledged that there have been “stringent restrictions” on the entertainment scene and pledged his ministry’s commitment to tackling the issue through the National Event Strategy.
He added: “As festivals and entertainment activities evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of its constituents, it was felt that the existing legislative framework within which festivals and entertainment activities were staged, had to be reviewed.
The proposed strategy covers three areas, the Minister said.
It is intended to develop a “distinctive new event brand”, standards, operational procedures and key performance indicators to measure events, and create a centralised entertainment licence – a “one-stop shop for government permissions to execute an event”, Sutherland said.
The Minister also revealed that his ministry will be providing seasonal licences ranging from 90 days to the three months of the Crop Over Festival to multi-year licences for businesses and hotels. He promised that the licences will be available for the Crop Over season.
Sutherland continued: “We intend to enact new legislation that will govern the execution of entertainment licences for 2020 and beyond. Before Crop Over this year you will have a new regime and by the end of the year for our 2020 gathering you will have an entertainment licence.”
The legislative changes will also make the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs responsible for issuing health certificates, loud music permits, liquor licences and create entertainment zones to provide extended, occasional and seasonal licences.
The Minister of Small Business also revealed that the Trust Loan Fund will be offering up to $5,000 to national artistes, entrepreneurs and promoters to prepare their shows during the season.
The Trust Loan Fund is to make funding available “to purchase their goods and services to attract greater amounts of businesses as they seek to catapult their service offerings to both national and international stage”, the Minister declared.