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Entertainment is serious business – Chang - After ‘Boasy’, Chang, Williams to visit other sessions

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:00 AMSade Gardner - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Scenes during Dre Hype's and Chi Ching Ching's birthday celebrations dubbed: "Hillz Vision" at Pine Ridge, Stony Hill, St Andrew.
Patrons at Skimpii delights.
BoomSundayz has been pulling patrons from around the world. Here a group of Spaniards (from left) Ruth, Ital Unit and Judith soak up the energy.

For years, players in the entertainment industry have voiced their frustration with the government, owing to the 2:00 a.m. cut-off time stipulated in the Noise Abatement Act. Tensions have heightened over the past few weeks, with Jamaica Sound System Federation member Ricky Trooper launching a ‘No music, no vote’ social media campaign to press the government to implement changes in the law.

Hearing these concerns, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has embarked on a series of engagements in St James and Kingston with the movers and shakers of the field in charting the way forward.

“By doing this, I am hoping to reassure them that this is not some informal activity but a serious business community,” Chang told The Sunday Gleaner. “In fact, the Jamaican entertainment business has great potential to contribute to the economics of the country. It not only pays the creative talent of our people, musicians, and dancers, but employs quite a number of people in providing entertainment, so it gives opportunities for talent to be developed and for individuals with such talent to run a viable business. The process provides a base on which it can be a significant economic activity in terms of employment and job creation.”

On his radar last week was the popular dancehall event Boasy Tuesdays, staged on Balmoral Avenue in St Andrew, which he attended alongside Kingston mayor, Delroy Williams. Though they were accompanied by a bevy of police officers, it was not the generational tale of ‘Babylon coming to shut off the dance’.

“We wanted to get a holistic view of what the event is like as an entertainment activity and how it impacts the wider community,” Chang said. “When you’re going to make decisions, you should know what is happening. Most people felt good that a minister of government, who has some authority over the activity, was visiting. Technically, I think they are used to not being listened to by many people. Outside of their circle of patrons and fans, society tends to be ambiguous towards them as a business group, so they are quite comfortable when someone comes to speak with them.”

Williams told The Sunday Gleaner that he and Chang plan to visit other parties to “get a feel of some of the challenges some venues face and to look at experiences so it better informs our policy and the direction we take”.

Chang added that an important aspect of readying a quick solution is looking at the best management of an event in relation to the impact of sound on the environment.

“There are many jurisdictions that have what we call sound ordinances, and if you take North America, which is our big neighbour, which we copy most, they have a huge entertainment industry, well organised, too, and a major contributor to their GDP with Hollywood and their music. We can develop a strong entertainment industry with good order, and that is all I am looking at. I don’t think it needs to take very long. I think once the promoters and musicians understand that we are doing something, and we are doing it right, and when we execute it is done fairly, that will be the key to all of this.”

Until then, Chang said law enforcers would continue to ensure that the law is upheld.

“Because of the high level of disorder, which is not directly related but does provide an environment for greater crime levels, the police have decided to apply the law. Specifically to the Noise Abatement Act, the police have been called in to several areas, but the corporate area this year has had a rough time in terms of criminal activities, so they have decided to apply the law because it says 2:00 a.m.”