Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced plans for a stimulus package for dancehall artists and other entertainment stakeholders.
On Tuesday, April 13, PM Holness announced in parliament that artists and other members of the entertainment industry will be receiving money from the government to assist with the struggles they are facing because of the lockdown of the entertainment center. The lockdown was implemented as a Covid-19 containment measure some time after the first case of the virus was reported in Jamaica over a year ago. Many artists and members of the entertainment industry have made public their struggles and loss during this difficult time.
PM Andrew Holness, who was speaking in the House of Representatives, announced that the lockdown of the center would continue until May 4, which means that until then, parties, round robins, concerts, shows, and other events could no longer be legally held.
“We understand the hurt and suffering. Many have lost significant resources, so we are going to have to make an allocation. I do plan to call in the leaders of the industry … We want to have an engagement because we see our music and our culture as a part of our economic recovery,” he said.
The Prime Minister explained that he is aware of the loss the entertainment sector is enduring but noted that the gatherings are “usually the ground zero of spreads.” But he advised entertainers and other stakeholders to prepare for the reopening of the industry to secure a booming rebound when he lifts the restrictions. He added that the government would also assist in this rebound through investments in the music and venues. He is also promising to create venues or halls where parties can be held freely without disturbance.
Members of the entertainment industry have been speaking out about their loss, some even urging the Prime Minister to reopen the sector. But what has been causing more uproar from the industry was the government placing the blame for the rise in crime in Jamaica on Dancehall music. Holness had claimed that the lyrics in dancehall songs are motivating crime and violence in Jamaica amid the crime surge the country has been experiencing for some time.
Entertainers, including Tanya Stephens and Devin Di Dakta, have made their disagreement with the government’s claim public. Entertainers have also begun to comment on the assistance being promised by the government.
Reggae/dancehall legends like Buju Banton and Spragga Benz have gone on the record a step further by calling out PM Andrew Holness directly for his mandated measures to combat the pandemic. Buju called the Prime Minister’s curfew measures “oppression and tyranny.”
“Fi everyone weh mi see a post out deh an a gwaan like seh unnu a ridicule unnu fellow Jamaican when dem a talk out fi unnu, an a talk out fi all who out deh weh cant talk fi dem self because a nuff a unnu lock up behind close doors an because unnu so rich and some a unnu have so much nice frens unnu know how unnu feel inside but unnu cant seh it cause unnu don’t wanna offend anybody. We don’t haffi offend anybody we can tell it to yuh like it is.”
The question some fans are now asking is if artists critical of the Prime Minister’s handling of the pandemic or those who are against any form of measures will accept stimulus money from the government.