If artistes and entertainers are not getting the kind of assistance they think they deserve, it is simply because there is no money for that in the government coffers. This is according to Culture Minister Eleston “Namba” Adams in response to the Hard Knaxx team participating in this year’s International Soca Monarch.
The minister said, “There is not that amount of resources to go around” and it is time Antigua starts to act within its means.
According to the minister, the group who are Trinidad & Tobago is there way too early, more than one month ahead of schedule. And the financial quandary they now find themselves could have been avoided. The International Soca Monarch competition is not scheduled to kick off until February 17.
“They have gone to Trinidad pretty early. I don't think a tent is open there. It is their decision to go down there early,” the minister said, adding that it is only Hard Knaxx himself that was invited, not an entourage. And that the group has gone unprepared.
Government had provided ten airline tickets for the Hard Knaxx team, having sent them to Barbados for US Visa purposes and now to Trinidad for the competition, according to the minister.
“We are prepared to do what we can for the artistes of this country… and I would like to see them go to the next level,” he said.
The minister advised that the tickets could have come through the government’s partnership with LIAT.
Regarding the alleged promise of financial assistance to the 5-member group, Minister Adams said he suggested to the group that they “apply to government for assistance,” and they have not applied.
“I cannot just take government money and give it to them. They have to apply the Cabinet and Cabinet would make such a decision,” Minister Adams said. “I believe that Cabinet would be willing to give them the EC$20,000 if the money is there.”
Further, he explained that the boys in Trinidad are not that bad off, since they stand to collect EC$50,000 or TT$100,000 just for gracing the stage and none of that money, along with whatever is won, would be going to the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
“All they have to do is show up in Trinidad, take the stage and they are guaranteed T&T$100,000. And it goes further, because last year the performers got an increase from T&T$10,000 to T&T$20,000,” Minister Adams revealed.
He said as far as he was concerned, the group first represents themselves, and the country second. A fact he admitted to informing them.
The group has taken some T&T$86,000 to Trinidad and Tobago, according to the minister, who said he was baffled as to why the group is out of money so soon. They are using prize money earned from the 2011 soca competition, which was only paid out last week.