15 January 2013

Gambia: Artists to Benefit From Copyright and Royalties When Certain Processes Are in Place

The Director for Literature, Performing and Fine Arts at the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mr. Sheik Omar Jallow, said Gambian artists will start benefiting from the advantages of copyright and payment of royalties as soon as certain processes are put in place.

He said this in an interview with Foroyaa when asked about the announcement made earlier by his Ministry promising that come the year 2013, all the registered Gambian artists will start benefiting from royalty payments for playing their music in either the radio stations or the television. It was said that when the plans go through, Gambian artists will just work into the 'Royalties house' every three or six months to collect their money from royalties depending on how may media houses aired their music and also publications by newspapers. This development was however welcomed by Gambian musicians, producers, promoters etc.

According to Mr. Jallow, the NCAC at the moment is unable to do this for various reasons. "What we have to understand is that the Gambia does not have a music industry. We only have a music scene because what is required to have a music industry is not what we have at the moment," said the Performing and Fine Arts Director.

Mr. Jallow said they really lack many things that a music industry needs to have in place such as a music record label, publishers, distributors, composers, arrangers etc. He said they also need crowd pulling artists and that all these things contribute to the establishment of an industry. "All these are covered under one big body called "Copyright" which actually helps the process to function properly. So this is what we are working on for the Gambian music scene because we know we really need a Copyright regime to be in place," he said.

He disclosed that the Centre is also working with various artist groups which are stakeholders in the Copyright industry. He expressed his delight that so far the NCAC has been able to usher in the Gambia Association of Music Promoters and Producers, Gambia Film Producers Association, Gambia Music Union, Gambia Theater Practitioners, Gambia Book and Publishers Association, Gambia Association of Professional Photographers etc. etc.

"We have formed all those instruments and come March we will have our main congress because that congress is going to determine our board of directors to set up the collecting society. I'm also glad to inform you that the Ministry has already allocated two offices for the Gambia Collecting Society which is the umbrella organization," said the NCAC Director for Literature, Performing and Fine Arts.

Mr. Jallow said they want to avoid what he described as a "Hand Bag" association, adding that what they want is to empower them and give them prominence. He said they have desk offices for all the associations at the NCAC Fajara office to enable them to run their organizations, adding that the writers will also be among. He said the artists can go to this office to register. He added that even though the Copyright law is still not effective in the country, the NCAC is working towards it realization.

On how artists can become officially registered members of NCAC, Mr. Jallow said a prospective member is required to produce a creative work before being considered as an artist.

"You must have to present something to say this is my work or creation and once we review your work and we know it is authentic, then you met our number one criteria. Then you can come to our office to purchase a form for D25. This form has to be filled with all the relevant information we want and it will require our approval. If you are a musician, I will advise you to start with the Gambia Music Union because you will be asked about union membership," he said.

He explained the Gambia Music Union has to approve the membership of a musician before NCAC issues the applicant with a membership card after authenticating ones work. He further explained that after their approval the artist would then pay D250 with their cashier if it is an individual and D500 if it is a group.

On the benefits of registering with them, he said the membership card can be used when travelling out of the Gambia and that they also provide endorsement for their members when they secure contracts. He added that NCAC also needs this to keep a data on Gambian musicians.

Mr. Jallow concluded by calling on all artists to register with the NCAC, adding that his doors are open for further enquiries and can be reached at this number: 3606551 for details.

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