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Call for artists to organize for coronavirus relief

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Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020. 7:20 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Office of Music Ambassador “Shyne” Barrow and the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), a division of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), have responded to calls for entertainers to be included among those to receive coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief.

Orange Walk entertainer Elito Urbina (son of the former Cabinet Minister) is a founder of Youth Connection Band, former lead singer of the Los Cometas band, and house performer at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City and Nahil Mayab Restaurant in Orange Walk. He spoke to us on Wednesday and pointed us to his concerns as expressed on social media.

Urbina explains in his post that while the announced relief will be specially emphasized on the tourism industry, entertainers are experiencing “an unprecedented crisis,” with job losses not only for musicians but their assistants as well – sound technicians, roadies, lighting personnel, riggers, drivers.”

Urbina and his fellow entertainers say they have lost gigs in the coming months left and right, with the Dexta Daps concert last week postponed and other international artists canceling visits to Belize as well, cutting planned wages.

“As social distancing measures are enacted and events are cancelled across all sectors of the entertainment industry, the COVID-19 situation has become so dire for entertainment workers that it requires action from the government…Entertainment workers shouldn’t be collateral damage in the fight against COVID-19!” Urbina wrote, adding that this industry too has its financial and family commitments.

In response, ICA asked full-time entertainers and free-lance artists for needs-based information, regarding their loss of work which it would pass on through the Ministry of Finance to the Prime Minister to be recognized in the economic relief package.

It added, “We are encouraging those businesses who are in a position to hire or support a full-time artist or entertainer to do so if they can. Please e-mail: ica@nichbelize.org.”

Barrow, meanwhile, is asking for the same through his office. He told us on Wednesday that he is working on arranging immediate payments in the coming weeks for some musicians and DJ’s, particularly those who were to take part in the postponed DJ championship which was to have started last Saturday.

 

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