The government is well on its way to handing out cash grants to affected members of the entertainment industry in Jamaica.
In an update over the weekend, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange said that there has been an overwhelming response to the call for support applications and that the grants were oversubscribed and had to be closed off.
“We anticipated about one thousand applications for the individual grants of $60,000 each to members of the entertainment, culture, and creative industries. We’ve had a very good response in a very short time and we have now surpassed our target for applications,” she said.
The program was opened on December 17 and has received 1,400 applications from professionals within several industries, including sound system operators, musicians, singers, sound engineers, stagehands, ?lm and video producers, writers, and journalists.
“Up to yesterday afternoon (Friday), 331 members of the creative industries had already received their grants which means that so far we’ve paid out more than $19 million. By Wednesday an additional 170 people should see the grants in their accounts. That would take us to 500 paid out. And then we would have another 800 or so applications left with the majority of those already processed and have met the criteria, and will be awarded grants,” she noted.
The money for the program comes from a $90-million fund for entertainment, culture, and creative industries practitioners. Among those are to benefit are individuals as well as organizations that were shuttered due to the pandemic.
Organizations are not receiving grants yet but will be notified at a later date of the arrangements, the minister said.
The fund to support the cultural and creative industries was initially $40 million but had to be increased in 2021 based on demand. The additional funds come from the Ministry of Finance.
“Most artistes have not worked since March as concerts, tours, and other events in Jamaica and across the world have been canceled. Many creative professionals have also been out of work as studios closed affecting audio, lighting, and other technical production professionals, graphic designers, curators, scriptwriters, stylists, among others. The festival and events economy, which includes such events as the Calabash Literary Festival, Caribbean Fashion Week, StyleWeek, and over 7,200 events that would have been held in towns and communities across Jamaica, were all shuttered,” she said during a speech in Parliament to announce the program.