Budget increase for entertainment
The Government plans to spend about $74 million for Entertainment Policy and Monitoring in the 2015-2016 Budget, a massive increase over the approximately $11 million allocated the previous financial year.
Charles Campbell, executive director of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, believes this level of funding is long overdue.
"The Ministry of Youth and Culture and the entertainment division of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment have been severely underfunded over the last three years, and so this increase can only enhance the ability of those two government agencies to carry out their mandate," Campbell told The Gleaner.
"What we hope is that some of the programmes that the entertainment division and the Ministry of Youth and Culture have developed over the years will be finally implemented to advance the industry."
areas of expenditure
Specific areas of expenditure were identified in the 2015-2016 Estimates of Expenditure, recently tabled in Parliament. A little under $8 million will be used for employee compensation, while travel expenses and subsistence account for $4 million. The largest proportion, $62 million, is to be used for goods and services.
"The role of the Entertainment Policy and Monitoring activity is to promote the development of the entertainment sector and to strengthen its synergies with tourism; have consultations with industry stakeholders; convene steering committee; establish an Entertainment Advisory Board and develop an Entertainment Policy," the document explained.
It was noted that $58 million of the provision is to be met from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
An Entertainment Registry and Noise Abatement Initiatives will cost $12 million each, while 90 Days/90 Ways of Summer will cost $14 million. Arts in the Park is expected to cost $8 million, and implementation of the Events Rating system around $3 million.
Other expenses on the list include the Visitor's Night Out programme, Artiste Ambassador programme and the Entertainment and Creative Industries Franchising at $5 million, $4 million and $250,000, respectively.
more should be done
Campbell insists that based on the fact that entertainment and culture have done so much for the country, more should be done to enhance their growth.
"In fact, it is a historical sleight of hand that the two agencies that are responsible for encouraging the development and growth of the entertainment sector have not been given the type of budget to allow them to do so. They have not been given the priority that they are due," he said.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Youth and Culture has had to significantly curtail its activities in the past, because of its very limited budget.
"The Ministry of Youth and Culture should equally be given a substantial increase, because they cover a wider spectrum of the arts. We cannot overlook the development of the arts if we want to have quality commercial ventures in entertainment," Campbell told The Gleaner.