The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt, has expressed her government’s willingness to support the entertainment industry. She made the assurance while delivering a Keynote Address at the 1st National Consultative Conference of the Sierra Leone Entertainment Industry, hosted at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown on the 23rd June 2018.
Madam Pratt, who was representing the Government of Sierra Leone, explained the direct relationship her ministry has with the entertainment sector, saying that “…entertainment is directly under my ministry.”
Explaining the importance of the industry to the country’s GDP and job creation, she told the audience how the New Direction government is willing to promote entertainment. “I’m here to deliver a message from His Excellency the President. The President is willing to fulfil all the promises he made at the State Opening of Parliament that entertainment is part of his government’s programs,” she said.
“My government is willing to support entertainment,” Ms Pratt added. She explained the plans the government have (through her ministry) for the Creative Industry as follows:
- Her ministry will develop better policies that promote entertainment in Sierra Leone.
- Her ministry will develop skills and capacity building programs for entertainers.
- It will pass a national heritage bill.
- it will support and facilitate the registration of organisations or companies dealing with entertainment.
- It will establish a national theatre.
However, among her advice to the creative sector is the need for artists to improve on their arts and create a viable market for themselves. She also encouraged the organisers to continue with such gatherings frequently.
The conference was convened as a common ground for entertainers to deliberate on issues affecting the sector, with the goal of proffering solutions for the complete overhaul of the sector to competently compete with its counterparts in the region. A galaxy of entertainers (musicians, film makers, comedians, DJs, journalists, organisations, models, etc) flooded the Miatta Conference Centre.
Meanwhile, the defining moment was when Lawyer Chukuemeka Taylor was giving an overview of the 2011 Copyright Act. It was apparent that most people don’t know what is contained in the Act and hence the reason why couldn’t benefit from their arts. It was an interactive session that sparked a plethora of questions from entertainers. It was clear that more has to be done to ensure that the Act is fully functional.
The idea for bringing the conference to reality was nursed by a renowned producer, Sahr Issa and Alhaji K. Tarawally aka Laj K, a TV personality and entrepreneur, with the support of other stakeholders.
Speaking at the conference, Sahr Issa explained the importance of the gathering.
“The idea is for all entertainers to benefit from their works. We are craving for a better industry for all,” he said.
Reiterating on the importance of the conference, Laj K explained how serious and ready entertainers have become. “Organising such an event without support from government or corporate houses shows that we are responsible and ready to take our industry to a higher height,” he said.
Talking on the achievements of the conference, Laj K said: “One of the achievements of this conference is the establishment of a Stakeholders’ Steering Committee that will work on the issues raised in the conference.”
Dr. Julius Spencer also presented on the functions of the Collecting Society, which the Copyright Act recommended. Other speakers were Mr. Charlie Haffner of Freetong Players, All Stars president – Milton Coker aka Colabo, Secretary of the Sierra Leone Musicians Union, Emry
Savage aka Kingfisher, Sir Wahid, and representatives from Audiofrica, and more.
The Chairman and Moderator of the conference was the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Film Council, Mr. Michael Kargbo.