Etana lauds Gov't for tour funding, urges other artistes to apply
Reggae singer Etana (second right) points to the symbolic US$5,000 cheque while Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange (left) and others look on at a ceremony last week.
After receiving financial assistance from Government towards her upcoming US tour, reggae singer Etana is urging other artistes to seek funding through the Entertainment Ministry's 'Artiste Ambassador and Tour Support Programme'.
"The Artiste Ambassador programme is a great way of helping to develop the industry and I'm happy to have been this year's recipient. I was shocked to find out that the programme has been around for quite some time and I am the first female reggae artiste to receive this grant," Etana told Loop Jamaica reporter Claude Mills.
Etana made the remark amid social media backlash over the grant funding of US$5,000 to support her 32-city tour of the United States, with many arguing that, as an established artistes, she was undeserving of the financial assistance.
One Facebook user, Carlos Max Brown posted: "I am surprised at this .....Etana is a well known and very established artist who I think earns a good sum of money when she performs so why should she be the recipient of this grant ...it should be given to new and up coming artists whose careers are just taking off. ... politicians are always channeling monies in the wrong direction !!!"
Another, Andrea Anmour called it a gross misappropriation of funds, posting : "Set up artist development programs so that the artists coming out of Jamaica and hopefully being able to tour in the future will be properly groomed! This is gross misappropriation of funds! Give it to a more deserving artist! Etana already "buss" and can support herself and family!!"
A lawyer, Stephen Cooper, was one of a few dissenting voice in the wilderness, maintaining that "the Jamaican government needs to do much more of this to support reggae music stars and in much greater amounts, 5000 US, while it's something, is really not going to go very far at all".
But the tide of abuse continued, with one user Courtney Hay, being particularly virulent, writing: "Police take note! Trump supporter Etana with tons of records getting poor people money from this corrupt government. Bet she don’t even pay into the tax pool. Her tour is already covered by the promoters. Regular people need the money not millionaires!!!"
The singer has however remained stoic in the face of the abuse.
"I believe it is a wonderful gesture by the government, and it debunks the claim that the Jamaican government does not care about reggae. The government is trying to make an effort and I appreciate it," Etana said. "I commend Minister Grange and her team because I personally see the work she has been doing for Reggae music in Jamaica. It's February Reggae month and there are tourists from all over the world visiting to be part of the celebrations and the concerts. Reggae Music is a great product for Jamaica and I will forever do my part to big up and promote Brand Jamaica."
The Artiste Ambassador and Tour Support Programme was introduced under the previous People's National Party administration, aimed at using entertainers to help promotion destination Jamaica in return for financial assistance. Among the reported considerations are the applicants' strength in the entertainment industry and on social media.
Last year, reggae band Raging Fyah received US$3,500 under the programme.
Etana, whose tour kicks off on February 17th in California, told Loop Jamaica: "I don't think a lot of artistes are knowledgeable about the application process but I hope that now there will be more applications and more artistes who can get the tour support they need to take their band on tour anywhere in the world."
According to the Ministry's website, all applications to the programme should meet the following basic criteria:
1. The Artiste or Group must apply three (3) to six (6) months prior to tour
2. The Artiste or Group must have confirmed bookings, contract and itinerary prior to application (Tentative booking schedules may be considered)
3. The Artiste or Group must present a detailed tour schedule including stops and venues
4. The Artiste or Group must be performing on no less than three (3) separate shows or venues
5. The original and 1 copy of the application form must be submitted to the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, 64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5.
6. Special consideration will be given to artistes or bands that satisfy most of the criteria identified and their tour engagement aligns with the objectives of the programme
7. Only typed submissions will be accepted Response Time: We will respond to you within fourteen (14) business days after receipt of your proposal.