Opinion: Why Do I Oppose The Policy Change?

February 23, 2015

Graham Maule[Opinion column written by Graham Maule]

The date of March 1st 2015 is certainly a significant date for many entertainers in Bermuda. Unless we act swiftly and decisively, a change in Immigration policy will be implemented which will negatively impact entertainers in Bermuda.

I am calling on every person in Bermuda to support the Bermuda Entertainment Union and to petition our elected representatives to oppose the policy change. 

Why do I oppose the policy change? I am a Bermudian musician who was raised in the tight-knit community of Somerset. My local community has given so much to me that I have spent more than three decades in the Somerset Brigade Band, trying to give a portion back.

I feel connected to my community because of my involvement in the Somerset Brigade Band. There are many top notch local musicians who have performed in the band, and this proud tradition is one which I firmly believe must continue. The band has been in continuous existence for 85 years, since February 12th, 1930.

Members of this band have benefited from the opportunities that were available under the previous policy, which has also provided opportunities for hundreds of other Bermudian musicians and entertainers for years.

Unfortunately, there are still very few ways in which a professional musician or entertainer can be financially stable in Bermuda without relying upon a main source of income in an unrelated field, apart from those who are employed as music teachers.

This is why so many entertainers and musicians from here have left the island. There is a continued exodus of economic refugees from our island.

I believe that this new policy will hasten the departure of more and more disenfranchised performers and entertainers.

I have been a member of the Bermuda Arts Council for a few years. When I first joined, I was unaware that a co-founder of the Council was a family member, my late grandfather’s first cousin.

I am one of a number of Bermuda Arts Council members who ‎have voiced our dissatisfaction with the new policy, and there has not been any approach to address our concerns collectively, apart from one telephone call that I personally received, during which the person on the other end attempted to convince me that the BEU was an organisation comprised of only 13 members.

I completed my research after hearing this, and learned that this was not the case.

I am not the only one in my family who will be negatively impacted by the new policy. In addition to a large number of musicians in my immediate family, there is a relative of mine who is a professional photographer. My research has unearthed the fact that the new policy will also negatively impact local photographers.

My relative is the daughter of a co-founder of the Bermuda Arts Council, and when I spoke with her, she was not pleased to hear of the implications of the policy change for photographers. ‎Sadly, the Photographers’ Association appears to be unaware of the impact of the new policy upon its membership.

If this new policy was in the best interests of local entertainers, musicians, and photographers, I would definitely support it. ‎ I cannot remain silent on this matter. I am extremely disappointed in the attempts that have been made to stifle debate on this subject.

My beliefs may not be shared by all, but I can unequivocally state that I am trying to make a positive difference for our island home by raising our awareness of the importance of music and the arts in Bermuda.

- Graham Maule [pictured] is a well known local musician who plays the trombone. He has played with the Somerset Brigade Band for decades, and also performed with the Wall Street Band and Giant Steps Band.

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Comments (23)

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  1. hmmm says:

    “Unfortunately, there are still very few ways in which a professional musician or entertainer can be financially stable in Bermuda without relying upon a main source of income in an unrelated field, apart from those who are employed as music teachers.”

    Isn’t that the same worldwide ?

    Tell me where it is different and why.

    • Local Music Lover says:

      Hmmmm:

      In this instance, you are correct – - it is the same worldwide – absolutely. However, this is the difference – - location, location, location. Bermuda is a small community with a limited amount of space, area and more importantly, opportunity.

      The policy change does nothing to assist in creating an environment where local musicians can find work – - listen to what I said – - “FIND WORK.” I didn’t say they “SHOULD” be given jobs/gigs – - it is the opportunity to apply evenly and openly for gigs – - to be included on the bill for any overseas acts that come to the island to perform. That’s what is the issue in this. The policy change allows for people to automatically disregard local musicians – period.

      This is wrong and should not stand.

  2. Bermuda Minstrel says:

    As a Bermudian musician, I think I can help here. If you lived in a larger country, and worked say in a 25 mile radius, you coul dget enough work without repeating yourself and being at the same place too often. Here there are much fewer options. West and, east end or Hamilton. That’s it.

    There are quite literally no Bermudian musicians I know of who live purely off their performing – there simply isn’t enough work with or without the new policy.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Basil Lambert says:

      Your statement is incorrect. I know of several Bermudians that are working full time off their performing. ‘Quite Literally’ it can and is being done. Not near as many that could or should be though.

      • Bermuda Minstrel says:

        If you actually know people who are really able to support themselves off performing music in Bermuda without any additional support or help, then they have my sincere admiration because it is not for the faint of heart.

      • Sandy Butterfield says:

        Several musicians/entertainers working full time ??? Wow!!!! I wonder who they could possibly be. I know a heck of a lot of musicians and entertainers and they all have to have second jobs. Maybe there maybe 2 who are living off their music alone and I doubt there are that many.

    • Felix says:

      I live purely off my income as a musician and does my music partner and our singer in Bermuda…we work with another guy who does the same and there are a few more of us too ! also a few Dj’s too

      • Bermuda Minstrel says:

        Felix: As I intimated above, if you are telling me that you are able to live off your music performing in Bermuda – without having to do any hustles, without having to work overseas part of the year, without living with your parents, without being independently wealthy, without living of of some other benefactor, then you have my sincere admiration.

        Have a nice day sir. I welcome your comments.

        Peace.

  3. Bermuda Minstrel says:

    In addition, I can understand the desire to remove the requirement for Bermudians to perform at huge events – such as Bermuda Festival, Beyonce etc. I cannot understand removing the requirement to have a Bermudian say one night a week at Hog Penny when you have an overseas entertainer.

    So in essense, I think the new policy is back to front.

  4. RJ says:

    You guys talking about acting swiftly, but missed the deadline (!) for public consultation on the new work permit policy. The BEU have only themselves to blame for letting down their members.

    Just more complaints about immigration. Nothing to see here.

  5. What now? says:

    You haven’t stated which part of the new policy negatively impacts local entertainers. In fact, the new policy requires that positions be advertised locally as with any job.

    If an event/bar/restaurant cannot find any local entertainers to play the type of music they need, why should they have to spend more money to hire both local and foreign entertainers? Oktoberfest is a great example, it makes no sense to hire a local band for this event.

    • Unbelievable says:

      This Immigration policy drama we are always is so tiresome. I’m sorry but there are simply not enough entertainers even around to fill certain jobs. Plus these local guys are sometimes pretty tiresome too. And that’s their repertoire.

      • hmmm says:

        What have local entertainers done to upheir product and their product access…is there a central website, where party planners can get clips of performances and catagories of acts, performers, or customer feedback ?

        Up the product up the product access.

  6. Unbelievable says:

    All this “opinion piece” gives us is one person’s rally call. He hasn’t even told us what the policy change is.

  7. Rick Olson says:

    The problem is thier is little call foe a trombobe player in this era especially in the bar scene. We need to give are customers bith local and and tourists what they want IF we truly want to create jobs for Bermudians in the hospitality business.

    • Coffee says:

      You sir are a trouble maker , as a Bermudian ,I shall boycott any establishment that I even think that Rick Olsen may have ANY interest in .
      I’ would like to thank Mr. Grahame Maule for taking a necessary stand against a policy which I believe is the thin edge of the wedge in displacing born Bermudians in many , many areas not yet identified .

      • hmmm says:

        So you will now go hire Mr Maule to play his trombone at birthday parties and PLP functions? This guy sure going to be busy.

        Mr Maule, please ensure you come back on here and report on whether you got a whole bunch of new gigs.

        • Coffee says:

          Hey Hmm…What a shame . There is a life after politics … Go find yours !

      • hmmm says:

        when is the last time you hired a trombone player ? when is the last time you saw a trombone plyer perform and what venue?

        • Coffee says:

          I would invite You look into your own life and realize just how shallow an existence You live . I am in some fashion associated with the arts on a continual basis in Bermuda .

  8. Forethebest says:

    Well said Graham! The concept that “if they come from away, they must be better than a Bermudian” seems to have been diminished in most areas of our domain, but seems to me thriving in the area of The Arts. This is not a good thing for all of us.

  9. Unbelievable says:

    One thing I do not agree with for sure is that the Musicians Union should not be collecting fees from promoters. For what? Where does that money go?

    That’s just extortion.

  10. Charlly X says:

    My my my smh !!!! Why are people trying to silence the truth by degrading the messenger ? Its Been happening for years in this country where local talent gets shunned in all sectors !! Read Mr Lance Haywards Story ! We don’t lift up our own and its a shame !!
    Crabs in a Bucket !!!