Simon Baptiste wants to dissolve the “wine and jam session” which boxes local talent, keeping them confined to one time of the year to demonstrate their worth.
“Every week, we have various young adults looking for guidance in how to move forward,” he said. “Folks are frustrated that they are not hearing their music, that jobs in film are limited. In terms of the public, the only time we (artistes) get support is Carnival. They try to jam everything into 60 days…when we have so much talent. Personally, that is what bothers me the most. Outside Carnival, be nationalistic, support the culture.”
Baptiste sees the cultural value of the talented folks. Although it does not immediately translate to dollars and cents, the worth is in giving them the support, the space and working knowledge of the industry in order to face the expected and unexpected in this showbiz life.
Hence, the return of Decibel from May 1-3 at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre. Baptiste, along with managing partner Carolyn Pasea of Question Mark Entertainment, developed this concept in 2001. Back then the three-day event, which catered for seasoned and debutant entertainers, was an intense collection of sessions featuring international record producers, musicians and Trinidadians recounting their own experience in the industry. Now the Baptiste/Pasea team is putting the spotlight on the next generation of creatives, providing them with the tools needed to develop themselves further.
The 15-25 age group is the nesting ground. That demographic translates to 100,000 plus opportunities in the creative industry. So, instead of concentrating on getting industry stakeholders to buy in, Question Mark Entertainment is encouraging these young talents to buy in themselves. However, this does not mean empowerment is equivalent to entitlement, Baptiste said.
“There is brutal honesty. It makes no sense sugar coating the thing. You need to work hard to get where you are going. What this event would do is help make it easier, it is a better guide,” Baptiste explained. “Sweat equity, that is the bottom line.”
Decibel will be a huge festival expo, Baptiste says, a mixture culture and the arts, something like what is seen at Calle Ocho in Miami or South by South West (SXSW—where Bunji and Fay-Ann recently performed). Workshops will have a purpose, he added, it will be the place to learn techniques to moving forward, with possibilities of placement for work.
May 1: Career fair, conference and expo
May 2: Workshops sessions
May 3: Decibel Entertainment Festival featuring Kerwin Du Bois in concert, and other established and ground-breaking artistes. Entrance fee to the concert is a donation to the Youth at Risk Literacy Fund. Visit www.decibelexpo.com or the Decibel Facebook page for more details. Sponsors: Republic Bank RS Teen, CreativeTT, Blink/B-Mobile and the Chaguaramas Development Authority.