“Carifesta talent being exploited”

“Carifesta talent being exploited”

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This post by musician Francis Bailey is causing a stir on social media this morning.

“In my humble opinion Carifesta is shaping up to be a total disaster for local creatives and were it not for the fact I’ve decided to go along to document the experience for Real Guyana I would have already pulled out. Here are my major issues with the preparations:

First of all considering the budget that got approved, the size of the total contingent should be way smaller than 80people. Let me speak for the musicians as those are the meetings I’ve attended thus far. What does one look forward to after getting through the audition process? Well apart from some validation that you’re good at what you do not much else friends. I’m also in the position where the band I rehearse with didn’t get selected to go through but I did even though we auditioned together so in two weeks we need to put a set together from the folks who actually made it through..visit us on adhocband.com/lastminute.html. I don’t know how many other territories are doing this but that’s the first thing which got to me.

Next you find out there will likely be a grueling rehearsal schedule for the few weeks leading up to the event and that’s fine but it’s all out of pocket and those of us expected to transfer our instruments back and forth in taxis should not expect compensation for this or even refreshments because there is n money in the budget.

Well surely that’s okay because we all get paid right? Surely, if you take professionals away from their jobs for that amount of time and you’re taking them across the Caribbean to d what they would normally charge folks for at home you’d compensate them right? Nah.. but we’re expected to play every night at hotels, bars, lounges and other venues which will be making money off the performances. In a country that will be earning from the festival in a region that’s bringing a cultural showcase together in order to promote itself and generate more revenue for each territory in tourism dollars by effectively gathering in one place to display their cultural wares. How come the cultural wares don’t get to earn anything? I’m not about to head back home and pay the landlady with Carifesta ticket stubs or fond memories because stubs and memories aren’t a form of currency…at least not one I can spend.

My point is this event is not totally free, just about everything has a cost attached to it so why not the creatives who make the show itself possible? That rubs the wrong way especially against the backdrop of our Ministers all looking forward to a nice raise of pay even as the 20% salary increase promised to public servants has been throttled at 10%.

As far as costuming, the Govt sound willing enough to provide a shirt from what I understand but apart from that buy your own but don’t look bad and let Gt down. If you need equipment you should also take it yourself because apparently you shouldn’t go to Carifesta and expect them to have the equipment rider you requested. Like me, for a Haiti showcase I’d want a wireless saxophone mic to free me on stage. That’s an investment I would make but I make investments based on likely returns and an $80,000 investment in a mic like that, in Guyana is a waste of money I’d be better off putting into a graphics card or memory for the computer as 3D work pays me back. In the cultural vacuum that is Guyana where folks are loathe to pay creative talent anything above bottom dollar I hope you understand why I still rock up with my SM58 and mic stand.

So I will fetch my own guitar, sax, keyboard, laptop, mic, sound card, clarinet etc over to Haiti and what can I expect in return for perhaps investing in some extra equipment to improve the performance, expenditure to and from the practice sessions, loss of revenue for time spent away and hauling almost 2million dollars in my own equipment across the Caribbean Sea? Wait for it…. an eye watering per-Diem of TWENTY FIVE USD a day. That’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, socializing with your Caribbean brethren and anything else you want to do wrapped up in there…in a country where surely the prices are being ratcheted up as we speak to prepare t for the festivities.

Should I be grateful that the govt are covering air fare and hotels? Not anymore than those who crossed the middle passage on their way to exploitation in a foreign land once upon a time. I honestly feel so disappointed it’s difficult to find the right words.

Do you know what I was told when I asked about compensation after it became apparent I’d actually be LOSING money to Carifesta? This is how they’ve done it since the 70s…they don’t pay or compensate the talent. So how about we keep everything in the 70’s and send everybody in bell-bottom jeans with afro picks and record players instead of ipads. After indicating I didn’t know if I wanted to go anymore because of these concerns I was told that there are loads of people lined up behind me waiting for a chance to go to Carifesta. Right bout now I feel like they should have their chance at exploitation too. Don’t get me wrong but no matter how thinly veiled exploitation is… it’s still exploitation and I can’t stand for that. Even with a popular social activist on the board collecting 200k from the ministry for ‘advisory’ services etc this is what is doled out and served up to the creatives with ketchup and pepper. I feel like I just lost my appetite.”

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