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Lutalo "Brother Resistance" Masimba.

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Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (Tuco) president Lutalo “Brother Resistance,” Masimba said he wants entertainers to be prepared to cross the borders to make their living once the T&T borders are reopened.

In a telephone interview, he told Guardian Media, it is, for this reason, the organisation, penned Minister of Health, Terrance Deyalsingh yesterday to request Tuco’s inclusion in the Ministry of Health’s national vaccination drive.

“It would take quite a while for the entertainment sector locally to really get back to a viable place. And there is a number of persons who would usually look to foreign lands for job opportunities. So that we are saying as long as the borders of the world reopen, it is obvious persons in the entertainment sector would like to be prepared to travel and look for some sort of opportunities that may present themselves,” said Masimba.

But with the campaign winding down on the first batch of vaccines, why did Tuco’s request come this late? Masimba explained the entertainment sector in T&T was not deemed “frontline” although it was how most made their daily bread.

“The process was a bit confusing because at first, they (Ministry of Health) said that frontline workers would take priority, then they spoke about making appoints by phone and WhatsApp and then they said politicians would be included in the starting drive. So when they said politicians, we said okay, let us see how we can access the vaccination,” Masimba expounded.

In a release from Tuco, it informed of its special request sent to Deyalsingh and shared some of its written content.

The organisation said, “As you are well aware, the entertainment sector has been reduced to ‘ground zero’ since March 2020. This means that all creatives and cultural practitioners have been trapped in a desperate situation for more than a year now. While we understand and acknowledge that the entire world is engaged in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we also would like to underline the reality in the entertainment sector where saving our livelihood is almost the same as saving lives.”

It added, “We wish to make a special request for your Ministry to give special consideration to the members of the entertainment sector, and especially to the calypso, soca artistes and musicians in the ongoing campaign.”

Masimba said the request was not for the mandatory vaccination of all in the entertainment sector as individuals could choose to be vaccinated or not, but, he foresees vaccination might be the only means by which people could enter some countries and it was better if local artistes and entertainers were be prepared.

Guardian Media also spoke to a couple of people in the entertainment industry who agreed Tuco’s request was necessary for the survival of the industry, but one also expressed some entertainers earned their money right here in T&T and were suffering and in need of some plan to help them keep their bread and butter.

Thespian and comedienne, Penelope Spencer said the entertainment industry was being treated like dregs. She said while she applauded Tuco on the move and any entertainer who would get vaccinated if they thought it would allow them to travel, her concern lied with the drought in the local theatre industry.

“Closing the theatre spaces indefinitely is more of my concern. I don’t know when the borders are going to be opened but there are a lot of entertainers who work right here in T&T and closure of the performing spaces in the country was more of a priority,” said Spencer.

Masimba said he had not received a response from Deyalsingh.

Guardian Media tried reaching Deyalsingh to find out if he was in receipt of Tuco’s request letter and what considerations, if any, might be given to it, but calls and a WhatsApp message went unanswered.