‘Out-a-door haffi open back’ - Entertainment stakeholders worried about industry’s profitability for 2021 and beyond
Carlette DeLeon, managing director of public relations firm Breakthrough Communications, believes that outdoor social activities must reopen fully in order for Jamaica’s entertainment industry – which has taken a hit due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – to be profitable in 2021 and 2022.
“I am worried about 2021 and 2022 and the future. I certainly agree that there will always be a place for the virtual space, but in order to have our livelihoods restored, out-a-door haffi open back,” DeLeon said on Wednesday while addressing a forum on entertainment as a business, during the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) three-day online-hosted Virtual Entrepreneurship Expo 2021.
“We have to have concerts and parties, and even with the COVID-19 vaccine I do not think the numbers are going to come back in the near future. Maybe it will happen long-term because when the flu happened in 1918, people eventually came out, but I do not see 2021, 2022, and 2023 being banner-years for the entertainment industry in terms of revenue,” DeLeon added.
DeLeon further noted that multiple stakeholders, including small-scale business operators and entrepreneurs, would under normal circumstances be able to benefit from a fully-booked event.
“When the entertainment industry was put on pause for a long period of time in 2020, there were thousands of people who lost their livelihood, including the lady who sells corn outside the stadium when I got to an event. There is so much business to be generated by entertainment that people need to understand it is not a hobby,” said DeLeon.
That stance was supported by Andrew Bellamy, the chief executive officer of Xaymaca International, who argued that only five per cent of the approximately 75,000 persons employed in the entertainment industry could successfully transition their work to an online platform.
“How many deejays, promoters, and other stakeholders in the business can transition to this virtual experience and monetise it? It would probably be about five per cent of them, at best, but what happens to the others?” asked Bellamy.
“The stakeholders need to educate the public, and actually push the government to accept and realise that entertainment is just as important as the other industries and that it plays a big role in the economy, and from there, more structures can come into place.”
Last May, two months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Jamaica, it was revealed that the local entertainment industry had suffered a $26 billion loss up to that point, and that 95.5 per cent of respondents to a survey by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport had experienced a loss of income.
This article has been corrected, the Spanish flu pandemic occurred in 1918,.