Opposition Member and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser informed the House of Assembly on 14 August that a group of musicians met with him to complain about the way they were treated during the recently held Emancipation Festival.
Hon. Fraser told the House that he would refrain from delving into much of what he was told because he did not have the full details, but stated that from all indications there seems to be a form of bias towards Virgin Islands artists in terms of how they are treated as opposed to other visiting musicians.
The Legislator said: “I don’t think there is anyone who expects or wishes for the total elimination of foreign bands…because there seems to be a two way traffic, local bands here do travel; but Madame Speaker no sooner than the festival season was over I have met with a group representing local bands and their complaint was about their treatment during the festival season; and one of those complaints dealt specifically with remuneration and fees.”
According to the Third District Representative, the VI musicians contend that during the festivities they were limited to one performance per band and that they were paid somewhere in the region of $2500 for that performance, while artists came into the Territory and walked out with $150,000. It was further mentioned that the musicians were unhappy about the fact that they at times had difficulty entering into a festival venue even though they were scheduled to perform, while visiting artists were provided with passes.
“I don’t know the details to the stories Madame Speaker. What I am trying to get across is that we’re not supposed to be hearing complaints from our people about the August Festival that was created and organized and executed for them. There was a time back in the days when our artists/musicians didn’t have access to the best equipment, the best music, the best studios and they themselves weren’t the best performers; but that was a long time Madame Speaker and I am concerned,” Hon. Fraser said.
He went on to say that the issue with musicians goes beyond the festivities and vowed to look into the matter: “I am concerned that they are not getting the kind of attention that they deserve. This thing with the artists and musicians goes a lot deeper than what takes place only during the festivities here; and I think that it is a matter that I intend to take on. I will not do that standing here (House of Assembly) because it is not fair to the other side; the other side meaning the Festivals and Fairs Committee, and all the other entities within the Territory including government which have to deal with these issues. It is not fair to them for me to listen to artists and musicians and take a side without hearing the other side, but where there is smoke there is fire.”
“I have been hearing about this issue for much too long, it has now come to my attention personally2 and intend to see something come out of it.
I heard things about foreign bands coming in and they get their trucks and generators filled with fuel; our guys get a truck and a generator and he has to go find the fuel and put the fuel in. Foreign artiste get wine whereas locals walk around all night and then they are called up on the stage to play. I am not taking away from what the festival committee has done to produce the festivities I have heard of no incidence.
It is our duty to ensure that in the future matters are dealt with and dealt with to the satisfaction of us all,” Hon. Fraser stated.