Government seeks special treatment for creatives

Pexels Jansel Ferma 3949720
A creative dancer. Photo courtesy of Jansel Ferma.

The government is seeking special treatment from host countries for creatives and cultural professionals travelling abroad. In an address to diplomats at a ministerial briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on 1 March, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that the ability of artistes to travel to countries to ply their trade is fundamental to the growth and development of the culture and entertainment sectors of Jamaica. “I would like to seek the support of developed countries by requesting that there be established, maybe a two-year moratorium during which travel of artistes, cultural professionals and practitioners to Europe may be facilitated through preferential instruments and systems,” the Minister said. “It is also vital that this facilitation includes the movement of goods and services,” she added. The briefing was part of Diplomatic Week 2023 activities from 27 February to 3 March, under the theme ‘Transcending Borders. Strengthening Partnerships. Advancing Development’.

Citing the 2005 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Grange pointed to Article 16 of the Convention which states that “developed countries shall facilitate cultural exchanges with developing countries by granting, through their appropriate institutional and legal frameworks, preferential treatment to artistes and other cultural professionals and practitioners as well as cultural goods and services from developing countries.”

Minister Grange also mentioned a recent increase of visa fees to a “particular country” which she said has affected entertainers. “I saw where visa fees were increased recently and it has seriously impacted on our entertainers travelling to a particular country, and I’m hoping that we will be able to overcome that serious roadblock because everybody in the world loves our music,” she added.

Giving an overview of Reggae Month 2023 celebrations in February, Minister Grange said that the activity is now “taking on across the world…. Other countries are now planning their Reggae Month celebrations, so it is infectious… . We are really inspired by that.

The minister noted that prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the global reggae festival economy had seen the staging of some 326 reggae festivals across the world, with the largest festivals in France, Spain, Germany, the United States and Canada. Grange said the Ministry will continue to work with the creative industries in Jamaica, “to reset them for growth and to seek the support and partnerships with all our international partners”.

During the week, the diplomatic community was exposed to elements of Jamaica’s culture, including a tour of the Port Royal Historic Naval Dockyard, Cruise Port and Museum. The week of activities will culminate on Friday 3 March, with an excursion to Appleton Estate and YS Falls, in St Elizabeth.

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