Cultural Workers such as event managers, bandleaders, artistes, and pan men desirous of travelling abroad for events and festivals, will benefit from priority access to vaccinations and travel exemptions to depart from and return to Trinidad and Tobago. Cabinet approved the measures proposed by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts to facilitate Cultural Workers that wish to pursue temporary employment for their work engagements abroad.
Cities across the United States as well as islands within the region are emerging from COVID-19 restrictions with the reopening of their entertainment sectors enabled by high vaccination rates among their population. With the creative sector having been affected by the COVID-19 regulations implemented in March 2020, this initiative gives the sector the ability to recover by accepting bookings and comfortably taking advantage of work opportunities in various overseas markets.
Many Cultural Workers have already made plans to make their yearly trek to events such as New York’s Labour Day Celebrations, Miami’s Carnival and Vincy Mas in St. Vincent. These events feature talent from Trinidad and Tobago who are in high demand as headline acts.
Public health restrictions, closed borders and the cancellation of Carnival 2021 have severely impacted the culture and arts sectors over the last fourteen (14) months and prevented Cultural Workers from being able to work resulting in a significant loss of earnings.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Senator the Honourable Randall Mitchell said, “We’re cognizant of the effects of the virus on lives and livelihoods and we’ve intervened, where possible, to combat the loss of earnings for Cultural Workers. The provision of the Cultural Relief Grant to creatives and the reduced rental cost for National Performance Spaces were just some of the measures we introduced to cushion the negative impact, however, with the global music and entertainment industry slowly coming back on stream, we feel that this program is absolutely necessary at this time to bring timely assistance and relief to our Cultural Workers.”
Under this arrangement, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts will utilize liaison officers to support both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security to ensure that both the vaccination and exemption processes are easy to access.
The process will require that all returning Cultural Workers be subject to the usual Ministry of Health guidelines and protocols and will be required to provide a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before their return flight to Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ministry has already engaged major stakeholder groups such as the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), PanTrinbago and the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association to ensure that its members who usually travel abroad to take part in events and festivals are part of the priority group. To date, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts has submitted close to 200 names of Cultural Workers to access vaccinations in time for their engagements abroad even as the Ministry of Health is set to accelerate its vaccination program within the coming weeks.