Local award shows must 'grow on' - Organisers call for support from local entertainers
Entertainment awards usually mark great accomplishments in an entertainer's career, showing that his or her contributions to the industry is appreciated and valued.
However, the number of local awards shows has been on the decline in the past five years, and with the recent announcement of a 'timeout' for the Your View Awards (formerly called Youth View Awards) or YVAs, some industry players are concerned for the future of local entertainment award ceremonies.
Other awards that have come to a close include the popular Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Awards conceptualised by renowned radio personality, Richard 'Richie B' Burgess, last held approximately seven years ago.
According to Burgess, the decision to put the EME on pause was due to the lack of support and the energy it required to execute the ceremony.
"Any sensible entertainer will embrace it. These entertainers and PR persons are quite happy to quote in press releases how many awards they won and use it to their advantage when it suits them, but do not see the need to take one night to stop by to show support or be present at an awards function to collect that same award," Burgess told The Gleaner.
Burgess notes that persons have confirmed their attendance, and then are a no-show. Some artistes even appeared at the EMEs and remained in the audience, and "just did not bother to go on the stage to collect."
"I think we have done a pretty decent job in terms of hosting awards throughout the years. Through a lot of painstaking efforts, most of us, as organisers really want to make a positive impact on the music and entertainment landscape, but for the most part, I don't think that the very industry that we are trying to improve or honour sees the value in the efforts. As such, there is no consistent embrace of these awards as it is in other markets around the world."
Other local awards aimed at rewarding the local music fraternity include the 21st Hapilos Digital Music Awards, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Honour Awards, and Sterling Gospel Music Awards, among others.
VIEWS ON LOCAL AWARDS
Chairman of JaRIA Ibo Cooper told The Gleaner that the problem lies in the way the local awards are viewed, compared to international ceremonies.
"It is true many times people don't turn up for genuine reasons - people on tour or don't send representatives, but there are those over the years who have respectfully sent video testimonials for us to play," Cooper said.
While the JaRIA Honour Awards show (which is sponsored by the CHASE Fund) is on for February 2019, as usual, when reggae month climaxes, Cooper said there is still a need for entertainers, musicians, producers and the various management bodies to rally around the vision in order to have the JaRIA or any awards body recognised outside Jamaica.
Cooper akin local award shows to trees. "They are like seeds growing into a tree, and if we as a people do not water that seed or the plant, it will not grow. Right now the seed is not getting enough water."
He said that in order for future generations to have the privilege of the various awards, they have to first develop to meet local standards and then grow to reach international standards.
Growth takes time, he said. "Some of the international award show organisers have worked for many years to get them established - Grammy and Billboard Music Awards had been going for years before all the recognition. What we would like to see after we are gone, is that this remains and does not stop because the people locally and in other countries realise the purpose of what we are trying to do in Jamaica, but there are still entertainers that are more honoured to get one of those awards overseas."
He shared that the even the behaviour of Jamaican entertainers at the international ceremonies reflects the respect that is bestowed on them. "The shows are strict, doors close at a specific time and anyone not inside after the announcement to get to their seats will be left outside; that is the same concept we apply those rules are followed."
SIDEBAR: Artistes not taught importance of representation
Music consultant and artiste manager Cara Vicker, expressed her disappointment at the postponement of the YVAs. She said, "It shows how underappreciated and under supported our local awards shows are."
Vickers added, "That lack of formality, representation and respect, that is seen when an artiste does not show to collect their awards, affects any brand especially one like the YVAs that regulated the nominations by including the public's vote it connected the young people or the streets with the entertainers, and them not showing up made that seem trivial."
She notes that sometimes it goes back to management. "Most times upcoming artistes are representing themselves and cannot communicate or have too much organisational skills, so when it comes on to something like local awards, the significance may be overlooked. And some are not taught the importance of having representation."
She agreed with Cooper's about growth and recognition, noting, "If our local entertainers, recording artistes and producers cannot appreciate our own at home, why should anyone else do it it will take a while for it to grow, but sometimes we understand, organisers have to cut losses and change format before it goes on to die out."
She noted that for the most part local awards are the only ones who recognise dancehall as an independent category. "Our entertainers barely make it on to mainstream (or international) award nomination lists, and there are some ridiculous categories as well, yet we are struggling to see the importance of endorsing local awards that acknowledges our own culture some of this has to be explained to the up-and-coming talent too."
She added that for dancehall to become recognised like reggae, the recognition and respect for the small but dedicated groups that highlight that authentic piece of Jamaica's culture must start from home before entertainers and the representatives complain that it is not getting the highlight it should globally.