Musicians’ Dream Now A Reality

By Jason Abel.

Minister of Trades, Tourism, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB), James Bule, officially launched Vanuatu’s first ever National Music Policy at the Ministry’s compound yesterday.

Since Independence, there has never been a music policy in place to protect all musicians and music created in the country, thus yesterday’s launching was a milestone for the music industry.

There are three goals within the policy, which will guide musicians in Vanuatu when contributing to the local, regional and international market. Goal one is governance and structure. This seeks to guide and regulate all players in the music industry through equitable governance and structure reform.

The second goal is growing the industry. This aims to enhance and develop the music industry in Vanuatu through materials and financial support. The third goal is protecting music in Vanuatu, and that is to provide accurate and timely advice to musicians on their rights and to protect Vanuatu musicians and music from exploitation.

In his address, Minister Bule acknowledged the current government for realizing the importance of the music industry through social and economic life of citizens in Vanuatu, and enabling the Council of Ministers (COM) to approve for the Department of Industry to develop this national policy.

Mr. Bule said that through the policy, the government has recognized that the music industry is vital to economic growth, including the lives of citizens as well. He also acknowledged all musicians and the music taskforce, Yumi Music Association and other music associations for their support in developing this policy.

He further acknowledged those who have preserved the country’s identity through music, which is traditionally evident.

“Since Independence, the music industry has been operating within the informal sector., the Government did not recognise music as a formal sector which contributes to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said Minister Bule.

“The government now recognises music as a commodity in which the full population in the country consumes it and has formed part of our cultural heritage. As Minister responsible, I look forward in making sure the policy is implemented with the three goals achieved.

The MTTCNVB Acting Director General, Mr. Jimmy Rantes welcomed the launching and stated that it is a dream for musicians from past to present.

“Today, we formalise the music industry specifically to better organise governance and management of the industry,” he said. “At the same time, the government can better monitor music data and assist our musicians.

“The ministry will be here as the lead agency to provide financial support towards the implementation of the policy.”

The Acting Director of the Department of Industry (DOI), Mr. Noel Kalo commented that the launching is an achievement for the music industry.

“The launching has enabled government to give recognition to the music industry. It is a milestone for musicians, producers, sound engineering including studios,” he said.

“Today, the government the has classified music as a commodity alongside kava and other necessities which is accessible every day. The launching is a way forward.

“With the music industry now a formal sector, it is a requirement for players to pay tax to the government. The next step is to address the music chain.”

Mr. Jean Pierre Sam, representative of the Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office and the committee who drafted the policy, said the DOI finalized the policy and provided it to the COM.

“The COM has authorised the DOI to mandate and implement the policy. The next step is to form a Vanuatu Music Council, which will be the country’s music authority. It will take the lead in implementing the policy led by the DOI’s creative sector,” said Mr. Sam.

“Musicians from past to present, today is an achievement and a result of unity. I would like to acknowledge the government’s support. This also offers hope for future musicians.”

Musician representative, Stan Antas, stated that the policy will guide music development in country.

“This will guide the government in targeting national interest,” he said. “It will guide music education, production and trades domestically and internationally. This achievement is the answer to a longtime cry for musicians in Vanuatu.

“The launching will also provide employment. A lot of work is yet to be done, however, today’s launching is the first step forward. With the government’s assistance, it will definitely develop the music industry in country.”

The MTTCNVB is encouraging all players within the music industry to come forward and work with them in implementing the policies in place.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed yesterday by the DOI, the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT) and VanIPO to address creativity and innovation in the country.

Furthermore, Acting DOI Director Noel handed over Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to three studios that have been assisting musicians.