A New Year's Artistic Resolution
Will it be resolved by 2021 that musicians and performing artistes will form a union or be part of the umbrella of the Association of Music Professions (AMP) where their interest can be tended to? Do the 'I's have it? I guess so but in Dominica the 'I's are generally "someone" else not "me"! Trinidad and Jamaica, two of the most serious Caribbean countries in matters of performers livelihood and rights have powerful organizations who look out for artistes where artistes can set prices for categories of engagements instead of the rat-race of underpricing each other to the detriment of the industry.
Will artistes resolve to be professional and exhibit professionalism in their performances and dealings? If so, it would be a good time for performers to arrive on time and start on time. This would require at least one hour before any show. Obviously, it's a good time to note that a drum machine programmed to a beat while instruments are tuned or bands men make their way on stage can no longer be the way to go.
Will it be resolved that dress rehearsals must be held before the staging of any major show? Surprisingly, it even happens at the level of the Dominica Festivals Commission (DFC) with Queen Shows and other national events, even up to the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) level where sound and appropriate lighting are not managed to ensure a smooth performance void of unnecessary technical difficulties particularly during changeovers.
Let it be a national resolution to the complete renovation and refurbishment to acceptable standards, of the Arawak House of Culture where lighting, sound and the stage floor and decor will assist the high class execution of performances. We miss a place to stage plays, dance and other indoor concerts which would allow for seating in air-conditioned-comfort; every country has one or more and we should be no different.
Can some good citizen or group resolve to have an alternative as opposed to the monopoly now enjoyed on books in this country? We really need a Frontline-styled cooperative bookshop where we can purchase Caribbean and Afro literature; but who will take on such a venture to help educate and liberate the minds of our people? The same can be said of the need for a functional music establishment where our youth can be exposed to musical instruments and equipment and training; similar to what the Kairi School of Music provided decades ago.
Yes, and we must resolve this year to finally give a couple scholarships to young people who want to study sound engineering as a profession. After training, this individual could be attached to the Discover Dominica Authority and would ensure that local groups don't sound like second-class citizens on their own stage shared by Jamaicans and the French during WCMF or "Jazz & Creole" activities.
It is time that the AID Bank and the government get serious about phantom and most times fleeting assistance to artistes. And finally, that an increase in budget comes in June-July 2021 to support cultural events, while we resolve that scholarships to young Calypso kings (with the academic potential for further study) just as the Carnival Queens have enjoyed.
Let musicians and artistes be respected, not stereotyped as lazy or are used only when it is politically expedient to rally crowds for conventions and rallies. They too need to be able to receive earnings from their art.
We trust that those resolutions will not be fleeting like those we make to lose weight or to do the many things that we know we will never and have never kept. But rather, let the country resolve some of these goals and aspirations in our own little way for the general well being of the arts.