Artistes should boycott Mashramani and Carifesta unless the copyright laws are enforced

Dear Editor,

Since I have been living in Guyana, going back and forth from England and Barbados for the last 20 years, I was asked by many singers and musicians especially the Mighty Intruder of “Lilawattie” fame and Mr Richard Noble, a producer and songwriter of “If you tell me” which was sung by our own Billy Wade, to speak on their behalf about the copyright laws not being enforced in Guyana which gives songwriters, musicians, and other creative artistes no chance of earning a living by whatever they have created.

Successful musicians and songwriters in the outer world, to this day earn a fantastic living from works they had created from the sixties to date. Ask Sir Paul McCartney, he is a billionaire and it all came from songs he wrote in the early 60s by himself or with John Lennon, and other artistes like Buddy Holly whose song catalogue he had bought.

I am just trying to show the singers and musicians and other creative artistes in Guyana how important it is to be protected by the copyright laws when they are enforced. The laws can also guarantee your family earnings from your successful works when you have passed on.

I refer to my letter in Stabroek News printed on August 25, stating that musicians and singers should not play for politicians because when they are finished all they will get is a few thousand dollars and that’s all. I also said that they should not sing or play for Mashramani or World Cup Cricket 2007 if they wanted the government to take them seriously about the enforcement of the copyright laws in Guyana, but they all turned a blind eye because they might not be able to stand the pressure that they will be put under by whomsoever.

To the singers, musicians and creative artistes in Guyana, your best opportunity has arrived and it will never come again for a very long time. So I will say this one more time, boycott Mashramani and Carifesta 2008 and you will see the enforcement of the copyright laws in Guyana put in place very quickly.

Make it clear to the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports what the singers, musicians and creative artistes intend to do so that he would have the time to make the situation right. Tell him now, don’t wait.

The government of Guyana cannot invite all of the countries in the Caribbean to a cultural festival when their cultural ambassadors, singers, musicians and creative people have been treated with disrespect over the last 20 years by their works not being protected by the laws of the copyright act after they have invested their hard earned money in something that they have created by their own sweat.

How can you invite other countries to your country when your house is not in order. I have always said that the musicians more than anyone else in this country, could make it better for everyone else in the arts if they were to face and accept the truth that the enforcement of the copyright and piracy laws lay directly in their hands even if they all have to band their bellies and eat salt and rice, just to make a difference and create history in Guyana.

The enforcement of the laws is worth fighting for, if you believe in creativity. Remember the government of Guyana passed the Sunset laws for World Cup cricket 2007 in the space of two sittings in parliament which was about two weeks so there should be no excuse why modern copyright laws cannot be passed in parliament urgently.

Why should our Guyanese singers, musicians, actors, actresses, playwrights and other creative artistes kill themselves in trying to show other countries around the Caribbean how artistic they are in Guyana when their own government don’t even care about them, their talents and how they provide a living for their families. In this country, it is time that President Jagdeo act on this important issue because when the union calls out the sugar workers on strike, within days the strike is over and the workers get at least 90% of what they were asking for. I know the money is important to the nation’s economy and we should not make comparison, but in this serious situation the sugar revenue is not more important than hosting such a colossal cultural event as Carifesta which carries 15 countries to one destination for all Caribbean nations to see what that host country has to offer and we must not forget that President Jagdeo and the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony have expressed how important this Carifesta 2008 is to Guyana and all Guyanese living abroad.

The president also said that Guyana can show the entire Caribbean nations our beauty, culture and fauna through a great event such as Carifesta 2008 which started here in Guyana in 1972.

But the one thing we all must never forget that without the musicians, singers, actors, actresses and other creative artistes in Guyana and abroad it would be impossible to host Carifesta 2008 along with Mashramani for the other Caribbean countries and the world to see.

Please! Protect your creative people with the enforcement of the copyright and piracy laws.

Yours faithfully,

Rudy Grant

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