Opposition Senator Damion Crawford has declared it interesting that the Government of Jamaica has repeatedly bashed dancehall but promised to offer aid to the entertainment industry.
Crawford, appearing on popular programme On Stage over the weekend (May 1), and weighing in on the genre’s perceived influence on crime in Jamaica, said that the Andrew Holness administration has exposed itself as conflicted.
“So, when you say it’s a contributor to crime, why would the government give relief [money] to that, if you allow the public to agree that it is true? Why would a company sponsor entertainment if it is contributing to crime?” he asked.
The outspoken Crawford also disagreed that illegal parties were the biggest contributor to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in the island, when strong data from the health ministry indicated otherwise.
“If entertainment is the basis of COVID, as some persons have been selling, the data shows that eight per cent of contracted COVID was from a social event,” Crawford argued, adding that 30 per cent of those infected got sick at work and another 25 per cent on public transportation.
“But every time the Government is on television it speaks to illegal parties. So, if you allow this is to be branded in the mind of the public as a negative industry then, by extension, the Government would be not be motivated by public support for you to get any form of intervention,” he continued.
The way he sees it, the negative stigma attached to the entertainment industry is seemingly intentional, as more often than not, the sector is lambasted in the public domain. This is contrived espcially as entertainment is on par with tourism as one of the main drivers of foreign exchange—an international influencer and brand strength for Jamaica.
“If there’s any other [sector] that can compete as it relates to earnings [to tourism], but also, no other industry has transformed poor persons into sufficiently wealthy persons as have entertainment. The barrier to entry is low; you don’t need [many] resources to enter. Now, if I was to start a hotel the barrier to entry is high. I would need a lot of money and the ability to get loans,” Crawford contended.
“Most persons in the poorer sections of Jamaica have made it through entertainment and that is why I keep saying we must protect the image of the industry. If it is positioned in the minds of the public that it is a COVID contributor, a crime contributor, a murder contributor then that impetus to have government protect it will not come. And government will always have a satisfactory excuse to the public to say, ‘This is why we have not embraced this industry in the same way’,” he argued.
Citing research in the UK on drill and rap in the US, Crawford defended dancehall as an influencer but not the source of Jamaica’s crime epidemic.
“I’m out here to say all the signs suggest that there is no true causal relationship between music and crime, in particular murder,” he declared.
The Opposition Senator, who batted for the reeling industry, also spoke of the failings of government in securing needed aid for the entertainment sector well past a year after it was ordered closed.