Alhaji K. Tarawally: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 July 2020:
Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, the UK government announced yesterday.
Thousands of companies across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinemas in the UK will be able to access emergency grants and loans.
The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in the UK’s arts and culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country that are hard hit by the Corona pandemic.
It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.
Investment companies and stakeholders in the Sierra Leone Entertainment Industry are calling on the government of president Julius Maada Bio, through the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs to emulate such timely and laudable venture by providing financial support to all those who are connected directly or indirectly to the Arts and Entertainment sector in the country.
This sector has been tremendously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of jobs and businesses at risk if nothing is done.
Major entertainment and event management companies have been crying out for help, but our cries have been falling on deaf ears.
We’ve watched the livelihoods of entertainers and that of investors in the industry dwindled in the twinkle of an eye. This is not only affecting us, but numerous others who are directly or indirectly connected to the industry through supply and value chains.
We need to have an idea as to when we will be expecting to return to normalcy and how the government plans to help us in the interim.
After the 2018 general election, I decided to take a back seat on political, economic and social activities on social media, including writing or sharing of personal opinions.
The current dire economic difficulties facing the Creative Industry in Sierra Leone however seem to be getting worse by the day for emerging businesses, rather than getting better.
This has left me with no choice but to add my voice, make passionate appeal and crave the indulgence of our government to use a pinch of the EU, IMF, WHO and other international support COVID-19 recovery funding to assist our Arts, Culture and Entertainment Industry.
About the author
Alhaji K. Tarawally is the CEO of LAKE Production (SL) Limited.
A friend once told me the citizens of Sierra Leone are among the most gutsy groups of people residing anywhere on the planet earth. True. Indeed our people never cease to amaze me with their overly audacious requests and utterances. Now what business is it of ours, if the British government that is the sixth largest national economy in the world, that can boast, without flinching of having a population that holds 9 trillion dollars in private wealth? How does a struggling debt ridden country like our own that resembles a camel with a broken hump, measure up to the high standards of the wealthy,heavy lifting British? Again how much has the entertainment industry paid in taxes and contributed in other forms of revenues to the scanty coffers of our beloved nation since our Independence?
Again, let’s try and put a finger on anything morally,culturally and spiritually inspiring in terms of sustainable contributions that the entertainment industry in Sierra Leone can proudly boast of bringing to the scanty, empty tables of national progress. I would like the writer to know the those loans taken from the IMF, World Bank and others have to be paid back with huge interests; it will be foolhardy to start sharing borrowed money around to everyone that craves and demands it. The entertainment industry in the UK has been among the biggest contributors in revenues and taxes to their government in years gone by; what have our entertainers ever done to enhance the standards of living in our abjectly poor nation? We have the handicapped and mentally ill to care for who cannot fend for themselves – let those happy-go-lucky guys in the entertainment industry cater and fend for themselves. Enough said!