Minister of Culture John King and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Carol Roberts-Reifer have been called upon to explain why the local entertainment industry has not received any response to proposals submitted to resume events in the island.
The call came at a virtual meeting on Thursday night, hosted by the Entertainers Association of Barbados (EAB) and the Barbados Association of Event Professionals, when stakeholders were up in arms about authorities allowing a four-day event being marketed to tourists by international company Haywire Event, while events for locals were still restricted under the COVID-19 protocols.
Contributing to the robust discussion, Jeremy Nicholls, bandleader of party band Xhosa Barbados, said although local associations and representatives for promoters have submitted, to the NCF, numerous suggestions on how events could be executed in a safe and responsible manner, there has been no response or acknowledgment.
“So, when all of these associations go out there submitting concept notes to the NCF to put together a package to submit to Parliament, but we don’t even get the respect to hear or see some version of what was completed, if it was submitted, or given some type of timeline for when it can be considered, but we have to sit here and hear that somebody else is capitalizing on something that we could have done?
“I am seeing in the paper that the Minister said he did not know anything about it; that is not good enough. What do you mean you do not know anything about it? That is not okay,” he said.
Nicholls added: “Really and truly, both the CEO of the NCF and the Minister of Culture really owe this industry some kind of explanation, considering we have not worked or done anything for so long. We have boats parked at the side of the dock, we have equipment in bonds paying storage fees, we all have lives, and you have somebody that can turn around and sell an event in Barbados.”
EAB president Rudy Maloney reiterated that local promoters have long submitted numerous protocol frameworks to Government and the NCF, as to how the industry planned to keep patrons and staff safe on the resumption of event life on the island.
However, he said, no meaningful response has yet been received.
“We believe the protocols we have sent forward to Government and the NCF, for Government and [the Ministry of Health] to look over are solid protocols. I believe that we should be getting a response; I mean that is the respect. We should be getting a response based on the protocols we submitted. We have not received anything,” Maloney said.
Nicholls further contended that, given the unfortunate situation over the last year when the entertainment industry was used as a “scapegoat” for several COVID-19 outbreaks, the industry needed representation in the Social Partnership.
“The entertainment industry would like a seat at the table when it comes to the Social Partnership; we have been asking for it. I am concerned that the representation that we have at that level, where policies and discussions are being done in this country, does not accurately represent what we do. We need a seat at the table when it comes to the Social Partnership,” the Xhosa bandleader said.
The Haywire event, which appears to have been planned for July 2-6, has been marketed to tourists as one that will include “parties”, “champagne showers”, “beautiful people” and “exhilarating excursions”.