INAUGURAL COSCAP FOUNDATION GALA – SPEECH FROM PRIME MINISTER OF BARBADOS: HON. DAVID THOMPSON & UPDATE FROM FMR. PRESIDENT OF SONY ATV: PAUL RUSSELL
It is with tremendous pride, satisfaction … and indeed joy… that I rise to salute and congratulate the organizers, the performers, the guests and hosts of this spectacular event in the suitably prestigious halls of the Hilton Hotel.
I commend the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (COSCAP) for the excellent work you have been doing; and for creating COSCAP Foundation to give something back to the many artistes who have given of their best to express themselves, to entertain their clients and to promote Barbados and its culture.
The prevailing image of the artiste in the musical and other creative cultural industries is that of a person who is so devoted to their calling, who gets so much satisfaction from producing and performing, that he or she is willing to do what they love for little or nothing.
This has undoubtedly led to the gross exploitation of many of our talented performers who – after a lifetime of service – spend their last days in poverty.
For decades, if not centuries, there has been an outpouring of talent in Barbados, by gifted artistes who received little recognition for their talent and less remuneration for their efforts.
This applies not only to musicians and related performers, but also to the talented athletes who enrich our lives.
It is only in recent years that our athletes have been able to earn the kind of fees which they rightly deserve.
What COSCAP is therefore doing is to ensure that what happened to West Indian cricketers does not continue to happen to our musicians and other artistes.
For 9 years COSCAP has been making sure that artistes get protection for their intellectual property and receive the financial benefits due to them.
I know that this is an unending battle with pirates, and other criminals who have little respect for people’s intellectual and physical property.
But you are not alone in this struggle.
More recently COSCAP has established the COSCAP Foundation to act as a safety net for the organization’s 1,200 members.
The Foundation is designed to assist in the financing of musical education, training and professional development for young musicians and other artistes, while enhancing their long-term social well-being.
Such education and training will be undertaken through an ongoing series of scholarships, grants, workshops, seminars and other opportunities in Barbados and abroad.
Ladies and gentlemen, you presence here tonight, in support of a worthy cause, is therefore highly appreciated.
These developments are indicative of a number of profound changes that have taken in the world recently.
The first is the phenomenal growth in the demand for entertainment. As standards of living rise, more and more people are finding themselves with leisure time to spare.
They have invariable looked to the performing arts to meet this need.
At the same time the spectacular developments in technology have made it possible for this entertainment to be delivered right into the homes of consumers.
The second change is the exponential growth of the tourism industry.
Many countries like Barbados have grown to depend on tourism to finance the rapid development we have enjoyed since Independence.
And of course, all these visitors have to be entertained in one way or another while they are here.
The third change is the willingness of increasing numbers of people to consider careers in the creative industries as attractive and lucrative options.
One of the lessons of the current recession is that a few countries will emerge as industrial giants capable of producing and delivering standard goods and services to the world at highly competitive prices.
Recovery will therefore bring with it the loss of several low-skilled and unskilled jobs on which large numbers of people in the developing world have previously depended.
If we are to survive and prosper in this new dispensation we must find our own niches in the global market place…
And it is in the cultural industries that we have an absolute advantage.
We in the Caribbean have a rich oral tradition and cultural heritage to draw on. What’s just as important is that we also have highly educated people to manage the affairs of gifted artistes.
Tonight’s star studded Gala is therefore a showcase of the range of talents we have in Barbados.
For me, there are three sets of stars present here tonight, who have either made an enormous contribution to the cultural development of Barbados or who are poised to give a boost to the emerging cultural industries which will no doubt help to take Barbados to the next level of development.
The first set of stars would be the dozens of gifted performers who have given us samples of their talent.
We have had stellar performances of Barbadian music in a range of genres such as tuk, gospel, calypso, rock, jazz, folk, hip hop, alternative, reggae and pop.
What I am extremely happy about is the mixture of established and new artistes working together and learning from each other.
This is one way of ensuring that the next generation is properly prepared and that this industry remains in good hands in the future.
The second group of stars are the Patron and Board of Directors of COSCAP.
These include distinguished and highly professional patriots such as Sir David Simmons, Glyne Murray, Ayanna Young Marshall, Ben Arrindell, Lynette Eastmond, Norman Barrow, Stella Hackett, Stedson Wiltshire, Nicholas Brancker, Celia Toppin and Derek Wilkie.
They have come together as a private non-profit organisation to administer the performance and production rights of the composers and authors of musical works and music publishers, as well as the related rights of the producers of phonograms and of performers in Barbados.
Not content with just collecting and distributing the royalties of its members, COSCAP has set up a Foundation to advance the personal well-being and professional development of the members of COSCAP and the music industry of Barbados.
These support systems are vital for the cultural industries of Barbados which have been earmarked as growth industries of the future.
The third group of stars are the MerryMen – Emile Straker, Robin Hunte, Chris Gibbs, Willie Kerr and Peter Roett – the quintessential role models for young Barbadian artistes and entrepreneurs.
For more than 50 years they have been producing and marketing their unique brand of Barbadian music at home and throughout the world.
In doing so they have shown how making music can be turned into a successful business by producing, publishing, licensing and distributing their intellectual property from their own studio.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the MerryMen have brought professional status and business acumen to the performing arts in Barbados.
Gentlemen, thank you for removing the last vestiges of stigma from this noble profession.
This group of talented Barbadians are the longest performing band in Barbados and as such, rightly deserve the first COSCAP Foundation Award of Excellence.
This event is sending several clear messages, to Barbadians of all ages.
First it is acknowledging that every child is born with talents, which need not be academic.
Our duty as a responsible and caring Government is to ensure that within our educational system every child has the opportunity to develop these talents… And that in the world of work they are given the status and financial rewards that put them on par with our politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers and civil servants.
The second message is that the nascent music industry, along with other related cultural industries are about to take off.
These industries are needed to pull us out of the current recession and help us diversify both our tourism product and our economy.
These developments are highly consistent with my government’s policy of investing in our human capital.
I now take great pleasure in presenting this year’s COSCAP Award for Excellence to the MerryMen of Barbados.
May you continue to enjoy what you do, and at the same time inspire others to bring pleasure and prosperity to our beloved country.
The Brit School
In 1990 as the then Chairman of Sony Music UK and a Brits Trustee, Paul Russell was instrumental in the inauguration of the Brit School in Croydon, South London.
The School is the first of its kind dedicated to education and training for the performing arts and the technology which makes performance possible. They offer students:
- a thorough broad and balanced education in a technologically rich environment;
- education and training which can lead to a range of careers in the arts, entertainment and communications industries;
- a new and stimulating curriculum covering all aspects of the performing arts and associated technologies.
The School is funded by both the Department for Education and Employment and the British Record Industry Trust – a charitable organisation set up by the British record industry to develop projects in the fields of education, therapy and other works in the community. The sponsors for the School include, amongst others, Britain’s major record companies; BMG Records, EMI Records, PolyGram UK, Sony Music Entertainment UK, Virgin Group, Warner MusicUK,RolandUK.
Over the past 20 years the school has grown enormously and on a visit to the school in October of 2009 Paul was struck by how many of the 6th form students were originally of Caribbean origin. He pointed this out at the time to the school’s principal Nick Williams and he readily agreed that some link should be created.
Having a home in Barbados and spending a lot of time on the island Paul was well aware of COSCAP and its CEO Erica Smith. When Erica announced the formation of the COSCAP Foundation it then seemed natural to him that the Foundation should set up scholarships for 6th form students from Barbados to attend the 6th Form at the Brit School. The COSCAP Foundation enthusiastically agreed and here we are on the start of a very exciting journey which has the long term objective of establishing a Brit type school in Barbados to serve the whole of the Caribbean. That’s the dream.
Initially the COSCAP-Brits School Scholarship Trust will be set up with Paul Russell as Chairman plus two (2) Brit School representatives – Nick Williams plus a nominee. COSCAP will be represented by Erica Smith (CEO of COSCAP) and Derek Wilkie (Chairman of COSCAP). It is hoped that the Minister of Education for Barbados will also agree to join the trust.
For more information on the Brit school please visit www.brit.croydon.sch.uk. For more information on the music company recently founded by Paul Russell please visit the company’s website at .