What about entertainment? – Industry Insider Believes Sector Underrepresented in COVID Recovery Task Force | Entertainment
Last month, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the creation of an Economic Recovery Task Force, chaired by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.
The multi-sector task force, which is mandated to oversee Jamaica’s economic recovery from COVID-19, comprises several committees. But according to an industry insider, there is a lack of representation from the entertainment industry.
“A gross oversight,” is how Kamal Bankay, chairman of sports and entertainment at the Ministry of Tourism, and also director of the entertainment advisory board at the Ministry of Entertainment, described it.
“I don’t see any representation there, either in the names of the sub-groups of the workgroup or in the personnel of those sub-groups. So suppose you were going to assume that entertainment was going to be subsumed under that of tourism and aviation, that might be a guess you would make if someone from the entertainment industry was on that task force, but I don’t see any of my entertainment colleagues there,” he said. -he adds.
Bankay, who is also co-chair of the Reggae Month Steering Committee and the Jamaica Carnival Stakeholders Committee, argues that without a dominant voice on the task force, who would then represent the interests of the entertainment industry?
“If the people who sit on this working group are industry practitioners or industry representatives, then you could say well obviously the people who came and were part of this could speak and reference the situation, but I don’t see it at all. So the concerns are obvious. We don’t have a voice, and if we don’t have a voice, the nuances of entertainment, which usually aren’t as easy to understand that other sectors that are more formally recognised, especially during this extreme circumstance of COVID, will not even be considered,” Bankay explained.
The entertainment industry, which is among the hardest hit sectors, was among the first to experience a total shutdown due to the pandemic.
As of March 18, in an effort to reduce and eliminate the spread of the coronavirus, the government restricted the opening of all bars, nightclubs and other places of entertainment.
However, in considering any type of stimulus package, one will need to assess the fallout from COVID-19 and the overall impact on the sector.
However, this may not be easily measured as the entertainment industry is in the informal economy, and empirical data is therefore not readily available.
It’s for reasons like these that Bankay says it’s important to have the right kind of representation for the sector.
He wondered: “Wouldn’t it be particularly important at that time to bring in people from the entertainment industry if it’s that you don’t have the data and you can’t talk about it? “
Bankay says industries like tourism that fall under the formal sector will have data readily available and “the data can be used to make decisions.”
But for sectors that don’t have data but are just as important to the local economy, Bankay says there will need to be even stronger consultations and inclusions.
However, contacted, a member of the tourism and aviation subcommittee of the economic recovery task force, gave assurances that the interests of the entertainment sector would be represented.
John Byles, CEO of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, says “that’s exactly the plan.”
“Adam Stewart and I are on it, and the plan is that the representation would be for restaurants, bars and entertainment, as they’re all closely tied to the destination,” he said.
Byles also said the subcommittee will also consider other non-entertainment areas, such as transportation and shopping.
Tourism and aviation subcommittee meetings have taken place, and while he has yet to give updates on the plans, Byles says, “the process is very inclusive,” involving the ” public and private sector, with the clear objective of working towards reopening within the framework of what the health requirements will be”.
The other members of the sub-committee are Edmund Bartlett (chairman), Gordon Shirley and Omar Robinson.