Thu | Jul 2, 2020

EAB engages stakeholders on phased reopening of industry

Published:Wednesday | June 24, 2020 | 12:19 AM
McIntosh
McIntosh

At its recent monthly meeting with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Howard McIntosh-led Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB) affirmed the importance of valuation of the industry to guide discussions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also made a number of recommendations for the sector’s phased reopening.

Noting that a data-centric approach to the business of entertainment, culture and creativity in Jamaica is one of the main focuses of the EAB in this two-year term, the EAB chairman said, “These numbers are [and will be] a part of a larger strategic plan to inform industry transformation and measure progress, especially in light of COVID.”

With regard to the much-talked-about reopening, McIntosh revealed that all aspects of a variety of events have been considered, from round robins to large festivals, “to ensure there is an equitable spread between event promoters, service providers and patron preference”.

“The Entertainment Advisory Board has heard the calls and is anticipating the phased reopening of our industry that has an estimated value of J$195 billion across eight sectors, and which provides employment for some 76,000 workers. Nonetheless, a balance between entertainment and health is paramount to the process,” said McIntosh.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In four stakeholder consultations held June 18-19 – organised by the Entertainment Division of the ministry, in partnership with the EAB – over 267 entertainment practitioners made recommendations ranging from instituting ratios of staff-to-patrons at events, online seating arrangements for indoor theatres and cinemas, waiving or reducing places of amusement fees and fees for public venues to provide a jump-start for outdoor events especially, streamlining gate entry points, as well as underscoring the need for government ministries, departments and agencies to take a holistic approach to the industry for maximum benefit to the nation.

Practitioners noted the economic value of round robins to community economic health – underscoring the income from this activity for school fees, uniforms, schoolbooks and basic necessities. Data from the municipal corporations and the Jamaica Constabulary Force show that round robins, community street dances and parties account for approximately 60% of the average 20,000 events held per annum in Jamaica. Given the inability to maintain strict social distancing and management of these events, however, the ministry expressed doubt that this activity would come back on stream in the short term, given the attendant health risks.

The EAB will continue to engage with industry stakeholders at all levels as part of its strategic mandate to balance life and livelihood during the phased reopening of the entertainment, culture and creative industries, which is consistent with the ministry’s mandate at this time. The chairman commended the Government on its COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and urged the industry members to continue to adhere to the protocols as announced by government authorities.

Continued consultations with Minister Olivia Grange and the EAB are planned to finalise the entertainment protocols, after which representation will be made to Cabinet on behalf of the industry.