On Wednesday, 4 October, I was contacted by television host at CNC3 Television, Hema Ramkissoon, to appear on her programme, The Morning Brew the next day. Her interest in me and the newsworthiness of what I had to say was piqued by a post I made challenging the Finance Minister’s assertion in the 2019 Budget Statement that the pilot project of the Live Music District was a “success,” and the continuing “lip service” and budgetary allocation decline. The original essay on that phenomenon, as well as my podcast on The Live Music Industry of the Islands were cited by Ramkissoon in the interview. Unable to appear in person, we did the interview via telephone. (See below.)
Within a day of that appearance, The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian picked up the story of the interview and my observations and opinions on the LMD and wider music industry. The continuing dependence of the State Owned Enterprise model to manage the strategic plans and policies for the creative industries was also noted.
Television interviews obviously have legs and a wider uptake by people since one of those people was the member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles, MP (UNC) who cited the Guardian article in his claim during the budget debate on October 9 that the “turnaround” in the economy stated by the government was actually a “runaround.”
Aside from denying proper citation for Geisha Alonzo as the author of the article, he somehow used my prior statements of declining budgetary allocations as proof that the government was not serious or just residing in a different world! “That was his assessment of the 2019 budget presented on Monday by the Finance Minister.” thundered Charles. I am either blighted or in line for praise — good, bad or indifferent — nowhere or everywhere. In this town, anything can happen.
When politicians of any stripe call your name, that means someone is listening. The Senate debate begins soon, so at that time, we can hear the Minister of Trade further expand on her initial contribution on the Live Music District in the Budget debate in the lower House:
“…the Live Music District has been a tremendous success, again, with more than 68 participants, in showcasing 360 performances. And what I can tell you is that this was a pilot project and we now understand. We have done the consultations with the owners of the venues and also with the artistes. And we are now preparing our finalized programme to be presented within Port of Spain and we are then going to go out to other areas as well.”
—Gopee-Scoon, Paula. In “The Appropriation (Financial Year – 2019) Bill 2018.” The 2nd Reading. Oct 8, 2018, 11th Parliament, 4th Session.
I am listening to these promises. The sector is also listening. We all await concomitant action by the State to make a significant investment in the sector that would create an enabling environment and a sector arising out of that environment primed for outward growth. I’m not holding my breath, but I have my mug of brewed coffee handy, just in case.
© 2018, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.