[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Coleen Douglas, marketing and communications director, Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts has called for greater engagement of members of the Jamaican entertainment industry in order to educate them about planning for retirement and managing their finances.
Ms Douglas was one of the panellists at JN Talking Reggae Symposium broadcasted from the studios of PBCJ in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew recently.
Need for Financial Planning
She said artistes need to consider their financial independence.
“I have done a lot of fundraising for artistes who fall ill and just can’t afford their own treatment. The first time I met Minister Olivia Grange was at a funeral. They would not release the body of the artiste as the family couldn’t afford to pay. We’re faced with these situations all the time. Because, unfortunately some artistes are thinking in the now and the now looks glitzy and full of glam,” she stated.
“It is important that we engage the community. Plus, the artists directly so that they know that these services are available and they can have access to it. Access to information for the artistes is also important whether or not they want to listen. But at least we have made an attempt to… engage them. So, they know what’s there for retirement planning. What’s there for planning for tertiary education for your children, and so forth,” she added.
Hugh Reid, general manager, JN Life Insurance, pointed out that owing to the nature of the industry, many artistes often fall on hard times as they grow older. Therefore, steps should be taken to ensure financial independence.
“Throughout their lives, many industry practitioners assist family members, friends and sometimes even the wider community, leaving themselves wanting in their later years; or, end up, due to chronic illnesses, depleting their funds. This should not be the reality for anyone, much less those in the music and entertainment industry,” he insisted.
Planning for the Future
“I raise the point not to discourage persons from being charitable to others and to mind their families. But, they must also plan for their welfare and wellbeing. Put funds aside to pay for your final expenses, so that your family members do not need to seek assistance from government, fellow members of the entertainment fraternity; nor feel the need to do crowd-funding, to raise money to pay for your funeral,” he urged.
Reggae and dancehall producer, Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell, who was also a panellist at the symposium, explained that as soon as a new artiste gains exposure, his focus is on honing his craft and not necessarily developing the business side of his career. He added that there were no lessons on how to spend the funds that was earned.
“An investment and so forth, that’s not even secondary. That’s not even thought about. I gained a lot of success at a very young age and got an enormous amount of money coming to me. The publishing cheques started coming and I was overwhelmed. You know what I did? I invested it back into the music because it was the only thing I knew,” he revealed.
“At one point in time when I got worried about my future, I tried to open a wholesale in St. Thomas. I tried it for three months and it never worked out and I packed up and left. We only know how to make music. For the majority of the individuals in the industry to transition into the business sector, such as farming and so on, it means having to put their careers on hold. Music for any successful artiste is a 24-hour thing. We have no time to garner any education. So, we’re in a difficult situation in terms of making money and investing it,” he added.
Financial Literacy Needed
Radio disc jockey, Colin ‘The Captain’ Hines explained that more experienced artistes in the industry needed to share their knowledge about financial literacy and independence to assist up and coming artistes with their own growth and development.
“We cannot hold on to our experiences and have the ‘kids’ not know what exactly is lying ahead of them. Somewhere along the line there has to be a meeting in the middle. I think we also need as part of the matriculation process, some sort of school or institution where people can go and learn about the business,” he stated.
However, Ms Douglas pointed out that there are tertiary institutions that offer this type of service already, namely The University of the West Indies and the School of Arts Management at the Edna Manley College, the artistes also have a personal responsibility to inform themselves.
“An artist’s job is to create art, but if an artist is not necessarily in tune with business, I think they should at least understand it. There are informal ways of educating oneself, especially now with access to the worldwide web. I am not saying every artist must go to school at the tertiary level, but they must access information to inform themselves about the business they are in,” she stated.