LONDON’S Indig 0 2 Arena is expected to erupt tonight with a series of concerts featuring Jamaican artistes dubbed 'Respect Jamaica 50'. However, there are still doubts about whether all the performances will be streamed live to Jamaica, as promised by the Jamaica 50 Secretariat.
According to Copeland Forbes, co-ordinator for the Jamaican artistes, there are still issues surrounding whether the artistes will agree to any form of videoing of their performances, without an agreement with the Secretariat.
“Everybody was enthusiastic about doing the shows and there were no complaints until the time came for the artistes to get their visas/work permits, and they realised that they had to bear the costs,” Forbes told the Jamaica Observer. The artistes had to join regular lines at the British High Commission and wait hours for their appointments and, eventually, had to pay US$320 each for the visa.
“Some of the artistes couldn’t afford it. For a band, that adds up to over US$2,000, and there was no support coming from the Secretariat or the Ministry. So the artistes decided that since they have to deal with these things themselves, they have to be paid for the streaming of their performances,” Forbes said. He blames the Jamaica 50 Secretariat for failing to provide any support although promoting the Respect Jamaica 50 shows as one of their premier events during the Olympics “When we get to London we will have to have a meeting with Robert [Bryan, executive director of Jamaica 50 Secretariat] and his team to decide on a deal for the streaming,” Forbes insisted.
Andrea Davis, International Reggae Day (IRD) organiser and booking agent, however, feels that the blame should be shared between the Jamaica 50 Secretariat and the promoters of the event, London-based AEG Live. Davis is booking agent for Toots and the Maytals. “Somewhere between when the (artistes) were engaged and when the time came for them to get visas, one would have expected that someone would have been designated and between Jamaica 50 and AEG Live would have seen to it that the visas were obtained in a timely and efficient manner, so they wouldn’t have been caught up with the long lines, the long wait and the costs,” she said.
Davis explained that while the artistes’ travel documents, including visas and work permits, are usually obtained by promoters or their agents, the Secretariat failed to provide any assistance and AEG said they never pay visa costs. She noted that eventually they received letters from the Jamaica 50 Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Ministry stating that it was unaware of the situation.
Forbes claimed Dr Wykeham McNeill, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, called during Monday’s Cabinet meeting to apologise for the foul-up and committed his Ministry to reimbursements for the visa payments. But Davis said that the Minister has only committed to providing some of the visa funds, and while there is an appeal for the artistes to allow the streaming of their performances to go ahead, there is no agreement.
“The streaming was not a part of the artistes’ contract with the promoters (AEG Live). So that would be a separate agreement. But, there needs to be some acknowledgement of some value to the artistes’ contribution to the whole process,” she contended. She said that while some artistes have agreed to the streaming, others have not.
Performers include singers Jimmy Cliff, Max Romeo, Junior Murvin, Bob Andy; Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor; producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, musicians Ernie Ranglin, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and old school deejays U Roy and Big Youth. Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Shaggy, dub poet Mutabaruka, and the No-Maddz band are slated for the event.