News Archives

Branville McCartney formally accepts PM's debate offer

Branville McCartney formally accepts PM's debate offer

Tue, Mar 31st 2015, 09:10 PM

DEMOCRATIC National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney has formally accepted Prime Minister Perry Christie's call for a public debate between the country's three political leaders to determine who is best suited to run the country.

Statement on the Music Masters Concert by: Paul Major, Chairman of the BNFC Secretariat

Statement on the Music Masters Concert by: Paul Major, Chairman of the BNFC Secretariat

Tue, Mar 31st 2015, 05:13 PM

The Bahamas National Festival Commission, BNFC, remains committed to its mandate to create events that will stimulate sustainable cultural industries, and promote all things Bahamian.

Over the past year, the BNFC has invested over half a million dollars directly in Bahamian musicians, for performance fees at promotional events and activities to support the Junkanoo Carnival Song Competition and the Music Masters Concert. Over the next few weeks and beyond the season of Carnival, the BNFC will continue to invest in local artists and the music community.

While there has been much interest in the guest performers at Music Masters, the Commission is clear that the primary objective of the event is to promote the Top 10 finalists in the Junkanoo Carnival Song Competition and to give these Bahamian artists, many of whom are undiscovered, local and international exposure. .

Given the highly anticipated return of Baha Men, to the stage after many years, there is no doubt they will draw many fans out, and in so doing increase exposure for the Top 10 finalists competing on May 8th. Machel Montano, who recently performed in the Bahamas over the summer to a sold out concert, will appeal to carnival enthusiasts, and create additional exposure for the Top 10 artists in the region and beyond. In Freeport, Grand Bahama, the upcoming performance by T- Connection and Jay Mitchell will also draw a favorable response.

Another one of the core mandates of the BNFC is to stimulate entrepreneurship and promote business best practices for small and medium enterprises in the creative sector. In keeping with this, the BNFC acknowledges that the music industry is just that, an industry. Artists have intrinsic value from a cultural perspective, but they also have market value. The Bahamas Musicians and Entertainers Union sets base rates for the Bahamian market. The base rate for musicians is approximately $300 an hour per performer or band member.

While the BNFC is being guided by established market values, we also appreciate the need to build value within our own artistic community and are acting accordingly. That is why the guest artists for the Music Masters Concert, Machel Montano and Baha Men are being paid comparable rates, unlike the incorrect information reported in the press. Neither artist is being paid $100,000.

We are mindful not to completely undermine the market system as that will present new challenges for other Bahamians who want to support and contract local artists.

Although this festival includes a cross fertilization of cultures, make no mistake the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is a Bahamian festival. The Bahamas has many examples to demonstrate how we draw inspiration from the African diaspora and other cultures to express ourselves uniquely.

For instance, last week, our Bahamas National Youth Choir celebrated its 25th anniversary with a concert that included Bahamian renditions of Haitian, Bajan, and Jamaican folk and contemporary music.

It is common practice for musicians to draw inspiration from cross cultural influences. Just because we as Bahamians benefit from a cross fertilization of cultures does not make us any less Bahamian and does not make the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival any less Bahamian.

Culture and music are not static. Bahamian music continues to grow and expand as a genre from the likes of Ronnie Butler to Julien Believe. We support all Bahamians.

In “Da Cultural Village” Western Esplanade from May 6-9 there will be ongoing entertainment on the Rake N’ Scrape and International Music stages with top Bahamian artists, including Visage and the legendary Ronnie Butler, as well as musicians from Haiti, Cuba, and the English speaking Caribbean.

Almost 3,000 Utilizing Re-Loadable Pre-Paid Cards

Almost 3,000 Utilizing Re-Loadable Pre-Paid Cards

Tue, Mar 31st 2015, 04:33 PM

More than 1,000 additional Bahamian families who have been certified eligible to receive food assistance under the auspices of the Department of Social Services were able to utilize Re-loadable Pre-Paid Cards instead of paper coupons to obtain food items as of Friday, March 27, 2015.

That brought the number of persons utilizing the Pre-Paid Visa Cards to almost 3,000 since its launch less than five months ago.

The introduction of the re-loadable Pre-paid Visa Card (November 2014) is the first phase of the Government of The Bahamas’ Social Safety Net Programme, which is scheduled to be rolled out in the next few months under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services.

The reform of the Social Safety Net Programme is intended to modernize the entire social assistance delivery machinery and will include what is known as a Conditional Cash Transfer programme. Used in many countries around the world and the region, the CCT Programme is designed to modify human behaviour based on certain conditions which families must meet in order to receive what is called “add-ons” to the base for which they qualify.

It is a consolidation of several assistance programmes into one lump sum of monies (via the Pre-Paid Card) to the family to assist in meetings their needs.

Clients of the Robinson Road Centre were the latest recipients of 1,078 cards. Those cards went live Friday. Currently, the Fox Hill Centre has 823 persons on the Pre-Paid card while the Wulff Road Centre has 741 bringing the total to 2,642. The process at the Robinson Road Centre is not yet complete and it is expected that the balance of persons who have qualified for the card from that centre will be added at the end of April.

Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said staff at the Horseshoe Drive Centre (the only centre yet to complete the full introduction of the card in New Providence) are already laying the groundwork to begin reassessments.

Last week, a team from New Providence traveled to Grand Bahama to commence the groundwork for the introduction of the Pre-Paid Card on that island.

“We are on the move and our work continues as the ultimate intent is, of course, for the card to be utilized throughout The Bahamas in the not-too-distant future,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Minister Griffin said utilization of the Re-loadable Pre-Paid Card has a number of advantages.

“The first and immediate advantage is that persons no longer have to come to the Centre at the end of each month and wait on lines to collect a paper coupon. Secondly, while the paper coupon specifies the food store where it has to be redeemed, the car allows clients to shop around as it can be used at any food store that accepts Pre-Paid cards and thirdly, the full value does not have to be utilized at one time as it allows for purchases to be spread out over the month.

“Then there is privacy with the card so that beneficiaries are not readily identified and stigmatized,” Minister Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin cautioned that there are some restrictions with the utilization of the card.

“The purpose of the card is to ensure that persons have access to food, hence the card can only be used at food stores and I can assure you that it will not work at any other establishment,” Mrs. Griffin added.