April 24, 2021

Arts Sector Slighted Over Heavy-Handed Ban On Entertainment Events

By Newsroom

In what it describes as an example of “different strokes for different folks”, a Collective of Arts Associations representing entertainers and members of the creative and cultural sectors is questioning the decision by the Health Ministry to selectively ban certain public gatherings for entertainment or concerts.

The restriction, which was made by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on April 21st, was among four new measures announced and will remain in effect until May 16th- but the only one that instructed an all-out ban.

Noting that the sector has been among the most badly affected since the pandemic began, it lamented that the lack of consultation with those within the industry has seen a move which once more leaves creatives without a means to earn their living.

“There is a long list of upcoming shows which are now forced to be cancelled or postponed “until

further notice”, due to the shutdown, without any consideration for the hundreds of people who will now become unemployed and lost income from sponsors, investors, and audiences.”

These shows, it said, include College Boy Jesse’s upcoming show “Soca the Love Story”, Penelope Spencer and Cecilia Salazar’s Mother’s Day Show “Threesome, Funsome”, the 50 th anniversary activities planned by the National Parang Association of TT, the 2021 Calypso Queen Competition – Challenge Edition by NWAC, Fonclaire Steel Orchestra’s 55 th Anniversary Concert, A Tribute Concert to Cultural Dance Icon – Torrance Mohammed and others.

It further questioned why the entertainment sector had been totally placed in the dark- while other similar activities were allowed to continue with careful precautions.

“Religious Spaces, Cinemas, Concert Halls, Theatres and Sporting venues – all have congregational activities and similar types of audiences and processes. These include, auditorium-styled seating, usher protocols and (except for religious spaces) – ticket purchasing systems,” it said.

It further lamented: “The performing arts community has adhered to the Public Health regulations, in some cases beyond the duty of care required and made significant upgrades and changes to its protocols to ensure that our audiences are safe to attend. To our knowledge, in the past 6 months there have been zero Covid-19 infection cases related to performing arts venues and zero performing arts venue shutdowns due to Covid-19 spikes, scares or incidents.”

The Collective made the following recommendations to government which could be implemented to allow the industry to remain operational:

1. A further reduction of audience capacity

2. Allow venues to remain open with access for Virtual performances

3. Transition to outdoor performances at venues that can accommodate this service

4. Zero LIVE audience = Zero venue rental

5. Maintain ongoing communication with the performing arts stakeholders before making

draconian policy changes that threaten the health and success of the sector