While government has announced plans for the construction of a few music studios in respective communities—an independent senator warns that such developments should not result in a conflict of interest.
Cognizant of the continuous growth of Saint Lucian music genres, the authorities have committed to taking measures to help artistes nurture and harness their talents.
However, Senator Adrian Augier has questioned whether government was competing with the young artistes who were trying to earn a livelihood from the music industry.
“In our overall efforts to enhance the brand that is Saint Lucia, we will not forget our creatives,” declared Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, during a recent parliamentary sitting.
He added, “The level of interest that has mushroomed over the past few years in our national festivals is testimony to the creative genius of our people.”
Early last year, parliamentary representative for Gros Islet, Lennard Montoute disclosed that retrofitting works within the Gros Islet Human Resource Centre was in progress for the construction of a music studio.
Simultaneously, another music studio project is being undertaken in Anse La Raye, where a resident family has come to the assistance of a young producer. The young man was provided with equipment and other resources to help in setting up the facility and to ‘upgrade his craft’.
In providing an update on the works underway for a recording studio, at Dennery, Chastanet informed that due to COVID-19 the project had been delayed, but the authorities remain committed to see the completion of the project this year.
Though the authorities have shown an interest to assist the artistes hone their skills, especially with the growing popularity of the ‘Dennery Segment’ genre; nonetheless, Senator Augier is wary of what he feels is ‘an unhealthy competition’.
“We are planning to build a studio, a government studio,” said Augier, at the recent senate sitting. “Do we know how many studios exist? How many young people have saved and earned and invested and created studios, which is their only source of income in an environment where we talk about creative industries?”
He added, “We are going to build a government studio to compete with them when what we need is traffic. Take the money and subsidize artists who want to record.”
Augier queried, “Why are you building your own studio? Governments are repeatedly imitating the private sector, after the private sector has invested its hard earned savings in a venture, you want to come along and have a government studio.”
According to government sources the services offered at the recording studios will be minimal and “below market rate’.
Nonetheless, the independent senator has questioned government’s ulterior motive in that development. He added: “Support the young guys in Dennery who have made an industry from nothing. Why are you competing with them …building your own studio?”
Augier suggested that an alternate and more plausible option would be for the authorities to create ‘production subsidies’ for artists who are keen to record at the existing studios.
An innovative feature of this year’s Independence Anniversary celebrations was the ‘Prime Minister’s Playlist’; where a selection of seasoned and budding artistes were on display during a virtual presentation.
PM Chastanet expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the event, stating that it was a good way to show support for the artistes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, since several artistes had been displaced and experienced difficulties in trying to earn an income.
The artistes too, say they were grateful for the opportunity to showcase their music in the midst of the crisis and to be able to link up with their fans and music lovers.
Meanwhile, the prime minster has stated that, as the country moves out of the COVID-19 environment “the opportunity exists to re-introduce Saint Lucia to the world…and to help us re-launch Saint Lucia as a premier location for world class events and festivals, where our local talent will be showcased.”
Chastanet further disclosed that government has made an allocation of $3 million “for live events which will be used as a platform to launch our 2022 line up of festivals.”
He said, “This will put money directly in the hands of those within the creative industry who have been so badly impacted by this global pandemic.”
PM Chastanet asserted : “The message to our musicians, artists, producers, designers, costume makers, suppliers and other partners …is let’s come together to show the world the quality that Saint Lucia offers.”
He added, “This is an opportunity that we must seize. We can and we will.”