THE financial burdens of some of St. Lucia’s hottest artistes have been significantly reduced, thanks to the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) and the Ministry of Culture and Creative Industries.
A cheque for $10,000 was handed out by the SLTB to Empire Media, which currently manages Groovy Soca Monarch for the past four years, Arthur Allain, and former Road March King/Power Soca powerhouse, Lance “Mac 11” Montoute.
The contributions were handed out during a press briefing held at the SLTB’s head office in Vide Bouteille last Wednesday.
The government of St. Lucia, through the Creative Industry Ministry, has also chipped in to pay for the group’s airfare as the artistes embark on a seven-week U.S. tour, starting with the annual Labor Day celebrations in New York last weekend.
Wednesday’s briefing also highlighted the board’s support and collaboration with Empire Media, which is one of the partners for the upcoming tour.
SLTB’s Marketing Manager, Donna Compton-Charles, said the initiative is very dear and important to the SLTB because it targets the island’s ever-growing Diaspora market.
“This initiative lends support to the fact that every year for carnival, we get more and more St. Lucians living abroad coming to St. Lucia Carnival to support it,” she said. “I think it’s only fitting that the key component of St. Lucia Carnival, which is the music, is actually going out and reaching the Diaspora in their country of residence.”
Compton-Charles said the SLTB is currently working on a Diaspora strategy which will be unveiled in all of their key markets, both regional and international.
“Another important aspect of us supporting this initiative is the fact that it fits very well with our new branding platform,” Compton-Charles said. “We are working towards unveiling our new brand and one of the key attributes of our new brand is that we are looking at really promoting St. Lucia’s culture and heritage, and working with the music of St. Lucia is definitely a first step — or a leading step — in really putting out there our culture and heritage.”
The Dennery Segment music, she explained, is gaining a lot of momentum locally, regionally and internationally and the SLTB believes that the music can be used to promote the brand to bring a lot more awareness to St. Lucia, as well as St. Lucia’s talent, culture and heritage.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Local Government and Creative Industries, Dawn French, was present to give the government’s perspective on the event and support. The government’s position in the creative industry, she said, is a solid one, and they have stated that they want creative industries to make a more meaningful contribution towards the island’s GDP.
French said: “More and more, we want our artists – whether they are musicians, sculptures, writers — to become professional so that they can use their talent to pay the bills. This is really one such step the government is really proud to be working with this team.”
French said government is willing to work with artistes willing to show that they are putting their all into it and that this team has demonstrated just that.
She said the ministry looks forward to seeing this event taking the careers of the artistes to wherever it is that they want to be because, in the end, it is all about their careers.
Shannon Labourne of Empire Media said it was a great day for the arts and creative industries in St. Lucia
He said: “We’ve been knocking on the doors for a long time now…It’s not a matter of just sitting on your laurels and doing nothing, we go far out to help ourselves.”
Labourne continued: “We have been pushing and we have been working hard and when you hear of State institutions like the Tourist Board and the Department of Creative Industries seeing your efforts and coming on board to supplement what you’re doing, we think it’s a matter of applauding these people wholeheartedly.”
He said he was extremely excited about the Diaspora strategy which is about to be launched and thinks it’s a huge opportunity.
“The Creative Industries now can propel St. Lucia to new heights of economic prosperity and that is where we’re at. You have a good partner in us and we look forward to you holding our hands as we advance this vision. We thank you for seeing the vision and for coming on board at this time.”
Allain and Montoute were present to voice their gratitude for the help coming their way.
Allain said: “I think we have been putting in quite a bit of work. A lot of eyes are on St. Lucia right now and I think it’s the perfect opportunity for us to really go out there and sell our culture, our talent, and to represent not only ourselves, but the entire island and those who support us to the maximum.”
Montoute echoed Allain’s sentiments, saying: “Within the years to come, I will share my input and see to it that St. Lucia stamps its name all over the Caribbean and the United States.”