If you didn’t have the time or fortitude like me to sit through the entire budget debate and was just back and forth glancing you could be forgiven for missing the the segment of the inaugural Budget 2017 address, delivered by the honourable Colm Imbert, that pertains specifically to the Creative Industry. There wasn’t exactly a wealth of details; like the Minister of Finance himself it leaned on the short side. If you still haven’t gotten the chance to even read a summary after the fact you slight wutless eh but don’t worry, I have your back. Check out the Creative Industry segment of the budget here.
You done? Ok. As you may have noticed just one paragraph of the short excerpt deals specifically with the Music Industry. I hope you paid special attention to that paragraph because that’s what I’m going to analyze today.
The excerpt can be broken down into two main ideas.
In the first one, the government is proposing to create an “Export Ready Academy” to “assist local artistes” with “producing, marketing and exporting” their music. Now that sounds great on paper with only one small snafu – wasn’t MusicTT was designed or that same purpose? This is what it states on the MusicTT website –
“The Trinidad and Tobago Music Company Limited (MusicTT) was established in 2014 with the mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth.”
In light of that, I have a few questions:
- Is this “export ready academy” a totally new body? – I hope not because I like Jeanelle Frontin and the rest of the staff at MusicTT; they work hard and their heart is in the right place. I believe they are the best people to work on this.
- If this “export ready academy” is actually MusicTT, are they going to give them a larger budget? – Things tight there, lemme tell you.
- Is there a criteria for the artistes they choose to support? – I’m an artiste too with quality products to export so…link meh
I’ve heard from somebody on Facebook, so take this with the appropriate measure of salt, that it’s up to the specific Ministry to flesh out the corresponding segments of the budget so I’m assuming that the Ministry of Culture will shed some light on these details soon. All in all I’m not too excited because this doesn’t sound like anything new but I would love to be proven wrong.
The second part is a lot more intriguing. The government is proposing to implement an “international music district” that will provide “appropriate space” for “live music and other activities year round“. If this is indeed implemented properly it can be fantastic for the local music industry.
I’ve discussed this topic offline with people many times and in my opinion, the main reason why soca is the only musical genre that an artiste in T+T can create a sustainable career from is because it has a festival (that segues to other international festivals) built around it providing a platform to gain fans and significant live performance revenue for artistes. A live, year-round music district would allow talented artistes from the other alternative genres to find an audience and sustain themselves leading to a stronger, more diverse offering of music for export. But again, there are many, many questions…
- How is this being funded? – If it’s just from the government’s pocket with no thought of eventually being self sustaining like a lot of things it will be at the mercy of politics and politricks.
- Where will this music district be located? – A quality, nice venue would be…nice.
- What would be the quality level of the facilities? – For it to be successful it at least needs to garner public interest. We NEED quality otherwise it won’t make sense. I hope the government is going to liaise with experts to provide a top notch platform. And experts from a diverse set of fields as well; sound engineering, stage design, event management, construction, security, finance etc.
- How much will it cost? – For accountability I’m interested in the figure. I’m a taxpayer as well as an artiste so I want to make sure my dollars are well spent. No cost overruns and thievery please.
- When will it become operational? – Before the next budget right?
- How can an artiste make use of the facilities? – Will it just be available for artistes to hold their own events (not exciting) or will it be a revolving door of organized events attracting regular patrons with artistes being featured based on their body of work, fanbase etc and paid (pretty damn exciting).
- What do they mean by international? – People who know me would know the relationship I have with the word international – it’s slightly better than the one Trump has with black people. My beef is that is has become a huge misnomer to indicate quality and on the surface that seems to be the case here. What I hope is that it really refers to some master plan of attracting an international audience to this live performance zone possibly seguing to a non-Soca Carnival-sized music festival which would in fact be awesome.
As always, let me know your thoughts. I would have liked to add my thoughts on what should have been in the budget regarding the Music Industry but I’l leave that for another article. If you’re an artiste make sure to check out our studio offerings – our motto is CREATE NEW SOUND and we always try to push the boundaries of music even within this local industry.
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