Entertainer slams THA: Pay us for carnival performances

Soca artiste Marvin Lewis performs at the Republic Day 2022 cultural show at Roxborough Sporting Complex on September 24. Photo by David Reid
Soca artiste Marvin Lewis performs at the Republic Day 2022 cultural show at Roxborough Sporting Complex on September 24. Photo by David Reid

ENTERTAINER Marvin Lewis is demanding that the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP)-led THA find money to pay the Tobago artistes who performed during the inaugural October Carnival, which was held from October 28-30.

In an emotionally-charged video posted on his Facebook page on Monday, Lewis, who sang at several events during the festival, claimed local artistes have not been paid. He said the issue had brought him to tears.

“Allyuh (THA) now go in but allyuh outta touch...allyuh really don't know what allyuh doing," an angry Lewis said.

“It have plenty people (suffering). Is them ah crying for, not me, they can’t pay their bills because they can't get their money for carnival.

“We in the second week after carnival and plenty of them, besides myself, still waiting on money for carnival.”

Newsday reached out to two Tobago artistes who performed during the carnival, who said they had not yet been paid.

“No, not yet,” a female calypsonian said.

“But I am accustomed to them inno. Them does pay two and three months after you perform.”

Another entertainer said she only received her cheque late in September from a performance in July.

“So we may have a while to go to get the carnival cheque.”

She claimed late payments have been the trend for years, even during the former PNM administration.

Lewis, a Tobagonian, claimed many people, outside of those in the cultural fraternity, are also being neglected by the THA.

“Allyuh really eh care. Is across the board allyuh doing that inno. Is not just artistes inno. Allyuh treating allyuh own people like dog.”

Lewis added, “I doh care who vex with me because I is a proud Tobagonian who sell Tobago. Right now my fellow artistes, man and women hungry, we suffering under allyuh and allyuh bad behaviour. It have people can’t pay their bills.”

He claimed all of the foreign-based entertainers who were contracted to perform during the carnival were paid.

“The people allyuh bring in, allyuh done pay them and gone. So is not no processing problem, and they get paid plenty more than we.”

Lewis said the PDP, which won the December 6, 2021, THA election, overwhelmingly, could just as easily be removed.

“They same way allyuh could go in allyuh could come out.”

He said he holds no allegiance to any political party.

“We on realness. I don’t care about political party. Right now allyuh have me real bitter.

“THA buck up and if allyuh can’t buck up, we getting rid of allyuh.”

Alluding to the Burna Boy concert on October 27, which closed the TOMAC Festival, Lewis said local artistes were disrespected.

“Is the first carnival I know where the focal point was an outside artiste. Is best they did bring Machel Montano. He from Trinidad and Tobago – and he woulda mash up the place more. We woulda jump up in the rain.”

On the Tobago Updates morning show, THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris said he was taken aback by Lewis’s video.

He said home-grown artistes should be respected just as much as their international counterparts.

“The international artistes who came in, whether from Trinidad or abroad, they were paid up front. But our own artistes, who are here depending on those contributions to survive, they have to wait a long time,” he said.

“It is two weeks after carnival and we know $17.5 million was allocated, yet our artistes are crying out asking this administration to have a heart to pay them. I am saying just as how we can pay those artistes from outside up front, why can’t we pay our artistes up front as well? Are they not as valued? Are they not as treasured?”

Morris said Tobagonians must be treated with dignity.

When contacted, Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris said she had not seen Lewis’s video. But she said if he was contracted to perform he would be paid “as per the norm.

“If a contract was signed for his performance, as all others, the contracting entity would need to abide by those terms and conditions as set out by the artiste,” Burris said in a WhatsApp statement.

She said the Tobago Festivals Commission was responsible for executing the carnival.

Newsday tried to contact the commission’s CEO, John Arnold, but was unsuccessful.


"Entertainer slams THA: Pay us for carnival performances"

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