Feverish efforts gets work permits

Hours before taking to the stage for Friday night’s Fever concert, Beenie Man and other artists who played the gig had not received their work permits to perform.

The permits were finally approved on Friday morning, because the paperwork had been filed late.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said he had remained late in the office on Thursday night reviewing the permits.

‘Late last night I approved the permits subject to hearing from the Music Association. I did hear from the Music Association late last night and I’ll make a final decision this morning.

‘Based on what I’ve heard, I will go ahead and approve with some conditions.’

The concert at the Royal Watler Terminal in George Town went ahead as planned, with Beenie Man, Peter Ram, Biggie Irie and Lovindeer, as well as local artists playing.

To bring foreign artists to Cayman, promoters and organisers need to meet a number of conditions including paying fees to the Cayman Music and Entertainers Association; getting the artists approved by the association; and ensuring that local artists are paid to play on the same ticket.

Cayman Music and Entertain Association treasurer Spencer Merren said the delay in filing the paperwork for the Fever concert was due to promoter Olav Monteith failing to give details of contracts of local artists who would be playing alongside the visiting artists.

Mr. Monteith said his efforts to contact the music association and pay the necessary fees were thwarted, and he was only asked on Thursday to get the 11 local artists to sign forms saying they had been contracted to play.

‘This is the first time I’ve heard of this,’ he said. ‘I don’t know why they’re doing this. I have to go around and get the local people to sign the form.’

He said that he had also been informed the day before the concert that instead of a flat $250 fee payable to the music association to bring a group of acts playing at a single concert, he would need to pay $100 per individual artist. ‘We have 14 people coming for Fever, that’s suddenly $1,400,’ Mr. Monteith said.

Mr. Merren said this altered fee was introduced at the beginning of this year, and was necessary because the association had to do ‘due diligence’ on each artist to ensure they were acceptable.

‘We have to check out these artists, make sure they’re not involved in inciting hatred or anti-gay [sentiments],’ said Mr. Merren.

He explained that the association now required written forms to be signed by local artists to prove that they were indeed playing at the gigs the promoters claimed they would be played at.

‘We’ve had incidents in the past, not with this promoter but with some others, where we’ve been told the local musician is playing, but he doesn’t appear and it turns out he’s never been contracted to play,’ Mr. Merren said.

Work permits for foreign artists to play in Cayman cost $285 each, which is paid to the immigration department.

Mr. Merren said promotors were expected to have permit applications in place about two weeks before, and no less than seven days before, an event.

Mr. Manderson said this was not the first time there had been problems with permits for performers.

‘These people knew this was happening for months. I don’t understand why this has to happen,’ he said.

Compass reporter Brent Fuller contributed to this article