A general meeting to address several publicly disputed issues was held by the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association on 1st March, 2020 at the George Town, Constitution Hall.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Culture, the Honorable Dwayne Seymour, Counsel for the CMEA, Dr. Steve McField, as well as members of the Association, and the Association’s official President, Mr. Jean-Eric Smith.
Mr. Smith outlined the challenges being faced at this organization, not the least of which is a faction of Members which has broken off from the Association and claim to have formed a new Executive body with a new President, etc.
However, in Sunday’s meeting Mr. Smith presented official documents from the Cayman Islands General Registry which were addressed to Fidelity Bank, listing him as the rightful President and legal controller of the NPO.
The document had to be produced to the Bank, “…because someone associated with the outside group, had the Association’s bank account restricted, despite being a non-signatory to the CMEA’s account,” said Mr. Smith.
He explained that the matter is now under investigation and noted that there could be serious repercussions for the perpetrators.
“Someone succeeded in having our accounts at Fidelity restricted just before our annual MUZAIC Festival Weekend, despite being ‘non-signatory’ on the account. This is a serious matter and it meant that I had to personally go into my own pocket to make sure events scheduled over the weekend could proceed.,” he explained.
“Persons even went as far as approaching teachers at the schools to stop the Young Musicians performance during the MUZAIC weekend,” he added.
The MUZAIC Festival is in its twelfth year. Its tenure coincides with the current President’s service, which also spans 12 years.
“This organization is nearly 40 years old and there was never a calendar event. When I became president, I thought it was important to for us to have a time - once-a-year - when we celebrate the accomplishments of our peers and acknowledge the contribution and service of our predecessors,” said Mr. Smith.
Minister of Culture, the Honorable Dwayne Seymour noted that it was important that both sides find a common ground and referenced the rift between Cayman’s two carnivals and the entities finally coming together as an example of what needs to happen with respect to the Music and Entertainment Association.
He explained that though he considered the President a friend, that did not mean he was not impartial.
However, he noted that the current president had worked diligently to raise the annual government grant for the CMEA from CI$5,000 thousand to CI$20,00 among other accomplishments which he thought were notable.
“I am glad that we are now honoring the musicians and entertainers from our past and I am actually of the view that we should have our own Hall of Fame for Musician and Entertainers from this country,” he said.
During Smith’s tenure the National Song Competition has been revived and the prize purse has increased from CI$5,000 to CI$10,000 for the National Song Competition. In addition the bi-annual CARIFESTA musical contingent has been expanded to include more musical offerings.
Attorney for the CMEA and architect of the organization’s original constitution over 35 years ago, Dr. Steve McField strongly advised that CMEA and those who have broken away, seek mediation immediately or risk losing the NPO status; a sentiment echoed by the General Registry Office, whom registers NPO’s.
The office has advised both the CMEA and the faction group that it is untenable to have the other members attempting to do business under the umbrella of the NPO and that this was essentially putting the integrity and credibility of the organization at risk.
Dr. Steve McField, explained that what could happen in relation to the CMEA was akin to the fate the Bar Association suffered.
“When we drew up the Bar Association Constitution, the members of Executive Counsel at the time - now referred to as Cabinet - decided that we should take out the clause that stipulated that the Association be a Caymanian only organization.
This was the mistake that was made with the Bar Association. What it meant was that those who come to live among us can simply draw greater numbers, vote us out and then do as they please.”
Both Dr. McField and Mr. Seymour noted that it would be wise to come together in a spirit of unity and amend the CMEA constitution to make the organization a Caymanian only entity.
Currently foreign nationals are allowed membership but not voting rights.
“It is not about protectionism but it is important to consider who are we building for,” noted MLA Seymour.
He added that his wish was to see the two groups settle their differences via mediation.
Both gentlemen advised the President that though he might not get the apology and recant, which he is requesting from the other Members as part of his terms for a settlement, it was something he may be able to pursue on a personal basis.
Some members present at the meeting concurred with the President’s contention that he had been wrongfully represented in the public arena and expressed concerns about public personal attacks which they said were not beneficial to the spirit of unity.
It is now proposed that both the official CMEA and the Members whom are attempting to form a new Association consider the prospect of mediation, after which an Annual General Meeting will be called; one month hence.
Sunday’s meeting was attended by roughly 27 Members and apologies were officially received from 21. A cross-section of the CI entertainment industry including DJ’s; Musicians; Producers; Icon Members; Founding Members and Distinguished Members were present.