[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon Olivia Grange, has disclosed that the government is to draft legislation to protect the rights of practitioners in the creative sector. This includes the music industry. Especially, as the country seeks to safeguard the cultural and economic contributions and legacies of its well-known creations, such as reggae.
Culmination of Reggae Month
Opening the JN Talking Reggae symposium on February 28 to culminate the celebration of Reggae Month, Minister Grange said her ministry has, since 2019, been embarking on a series of measures to facilitate and protect the continued viability and growth of Jamaican music.
“Key among these was the preparation of a candidature filed to UNESCO- United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation- in 2019 on Reggae Music of Jamaica to have the element inscribed on UNESCO’s representative list,” she stated. The inclusion has established Jamaica as the original source of reggae.
“My ministry also prepared a proposal to the European Union and UNESCO for technical support under their expert facility on the governance of culture. And I am happy tonight to announce that through this facility Jamaica will produce a first draft of an Entertainment Cultural and Creative Economy Act,” she disclosed.
The target date for the draft is June. Which will establish a legal framework within which mechanisms will be established to protect the rights of members of the creative, cultural and entertainment sectors. The draft legislation is set to come as the country celebrates its 60th year of independence.
The Act will also outline incentives for investors in the creative and cultural sectors. In addition, taxation relief for professionals in the arena. As well as establish the framework for the creation of a space for cultural expression.
She noted that the drafting of the legislation parallels an ongoing thrust for the ratification of international legal instruments. In an effort to protect the copyright of Jamaican ‘creatives’, even within the Metaverse.
The legislation is to be supported by the Cultural Policy, which Minister Grange said is almost complete.
Calling on Banking Industry
“We have come a long way,” mused the minister. Who has also had a career in artiste management. As she challenged banks to step up their investment to the sector.
“The banks were not receptive, except for one bank,” she recalled, “and we had to mortgage everything we had, and so I hope tonight is a beginning of a new era.”
In her contribution to the discussions following the minister’s presentation, panellist, Gillian Hyde, deputy managing director, JN Bank, acknowledged the difficulties entrepreneurs and self-employed persons in the creative sector face when accessing financing from banks. Pointing out that many players in the space face challenges because of the difficulty they have with creating and operating an enterprise. Specifically, with monetising intellectual property for use as collateral.
She said JN Bank is prepared to help.
“Based on our service over the years to the micro and small business sector, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand and [to] build a relationship with that sector. In addition, we want to zone in on our creative sector. To include our artistes, and ensure that we design products that meet their needs,” she explained to JN Talking Reggae symposium host, attorney-at-law and media personality, Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton.
She added that the JN Group will be working with their local and international partners. More importantly, to provide financial products with guaranteed programmes that provide access to collateral in order to assist with the security challenge.
Financial and Music Industry Education
Other panellists pointed to the need for financial education of artistes. Plus, other music professionals at an early stage in their development.
Producer, Cordel “Skatta” Burrell bemoaned that there are no ‘music schools’ at the basic, primary or high school levels to teach financial management to aspiring music professionals.
“There are no lessons on how to spend the money when it is made. Artistes know how to buy the flashy stuff and so on. But, investment is not even secondary or is even taught,” he opined.
Referencing himself, he noted how he achieved stardom at the age of 23. He spent his money on cars and bikes, and investing it back into the music.
“At one point in time when I got worried about my future. I opened a wholesale in St Thomas. I tried it for three months and it didn’t work out, so I packed up and left. We only know about music,” he affirmed.
The JN Talking Reggae symposium tackled several other issues and challenges facing local artistes. In addition to professionals in the music and creative industries. Including retirement planning, intellectual property management, marketing and achieving international recognition.
The event aired live on TVJ, PBCJ, Nationwide Radio, and streamed on the JN Group’s social media platforms and Zoom. It featured contributions from Minister Grange, international music management mogul, David Miller; international producer and co-chair of the Reggae Grammy Screening Committee for 12 years, Cristy Barber. Plus, reggae/ dancehall artiste and JN Group ambassador, Agent Sasco; producer, Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell; Cultural Studies scholar and lecturer, Dr Sonjah Stanley Niah; chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Ewan Simpson, as well as popular disc jockey and radio personality, Colin ‘The Captain’ Hines; marketing and communications director at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, Coleen Douglas; and entertainment lawyer, Ronald Young.
The symposium can be watched on The Jamaica National Group’s social media platforms, including YouTube.