Received the following by email. It’s from Terneille Burrows (TaDa). Quite frankly, I was thrilled to get it. Those of us who work in the Department of Culture have made similar points in boardrooms and accountants’ offices, but the attitudes about ourselves and our artists persist.
I’m not going to say more — I’m just going to post her letter and let her speak for herself.
Big Acts, Big Budgets… bad for Bahamian Artists??
By Terneille Burrows
*A major concert sponsored by Bahamian companies and featuring multi-platinum hip-hop artist Lil Wayne will take place in Nassau on Friday September 26, 2008. Will Bahamian performers on this show be fairly treated and compensated???
However outrageous it may seem, Bahamian recording artists are often times given the “short end of the stick” when it comes to being recruited to perform on shows featuring major international recording acts. Despite the promoters best efforts to make local artists feel important (backstage, pre and post party events access etc.), there may not be payment offered for the artists’ services, which can include not only performing at the show, but making promotional appearances, attending rehearsals, meetings, sound-check and lending their name and likeness to be attached with the event promotion. (Oops, the natives were neglected from the big budget…oh well…)
However, it seems everyone except the local artists financially benefit (promoters, advertising media, venues, event consultants, security firms, sound and lighting companies etc.) When promoters apply for international artists’ visas and other required licenses to work in our country, should we also demand that our local artists be compensated for their contributions as well? While some might argue that local performers should jump at the chance to be on a big event, merely for the presumed prestige of it, I would have to disagree. Bahamian artists have long fought for the respect of our craft, as some of us do this for a living, while others aspire to. I feel as though if an artist or entertainer has worked to establish them self and gained a decent local following, there should be a fee attached with their service.
Some sectors of the Bahamian entertainment industry have established systems in place to cultivate their respective discipline. The burgeoning Bahamian film industry has benefitted vastly from practices implemented by the Ministry of Tourism’s Bahamas Film and Television Commission division. The Bahamas film commission has become a excellent example of a system that should be emulated by the wider entertainment and performance industries in the Bahamas. Film commissioner Craig Woods, and his team actively promote and facilitate the hiring of Bahamian crew for productions that come to be filmed here. They are in intent on continuing the nourishment of the Bahamian film industry through not only promoting Bahamians gaining experience on film productions, but also by providing them with employment on productions that come to town.
We as artists and artists’ representatives are also to blame for allowing ourselves to be so freely taken advantage of. It’s time to effect dramatic change and encourage Bahamians and foreigners alike to regard Bahamian artists and entertainers as working professionals. Throughout other parts of the world, local independent artists are taken seriously for their work. More closely to home, in parts of the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados, there exists established and organized music industries. The government, corporate world and consumers alike support their local music scenes. Major artists like Rihanna, Sean Paul, and Sean Kingston come from the Caribbean, are all respected on the international scene, and celebrated by their countrymen. Why can’t we do the same in our country?
Other Artists’ Input
“This (exploitation) has been going on for far too long and people are afraid to speak out for fear of being blacklisted, but mainly because we have been conditioned to believe that we as Bahamians are not ‘good enough’ to make it on an international level”.
– Margaret ‘Believe’ Glynatsis (Recording Artist/Producer)
“It is insulting when an organizer expects an entertainer to perform for free however charitable the event without saying, we are willing to pay ‘x’ in exchange for your services – which in turn offers the artist the opportunity to say, ‘don’t worry about it, I’ll do it for free’. If a promoter/organizer is unable to pay you, there should be some exchange, pre-agreed by both of you that is valued at the cost of your performance i.e. – goods or services, event passes, commercial consideration… something. And I won’t begin to talk about Flyers, Press Releases, web-advertising, radio mentions.
– Bodine ‘Be’ Johnson (Recording Artist/Journalist)
“How can major international promoters and the local consultants they hire expect to be taken seriously by local (Bahamian) acts, when our performers are treated like second class citizens at events in our own country? I have seen too many major concerts come to the Bahamas and have local artists act as guinea pigs, while sound engineers check levels and tweak the house system during the opening performances in preparation for the headliners!! The local artist are again put in a predicament, when headliners arrive late, and the opening acts are used to “stall” the aggravated audience. For this type of treatment, it only adds injury to insult to imagine our Bahamian artists performing at these events without being duly compensated”
– Ian ‘Bigg E’ Cleare (Producer/Studio)
Talk it, family!