Sunday, 11 May 2014

Singing for less than your supper

I got an email today asking me to sign a petition in support of local musicians. Following on from the UK City Culture which to date did little to enhance the lives of the people in this city Derry now enjoys the title of Music City 2014.

In this city we have some of the finest musicians in the country many of whom give their time freely on a regular basis performing gigs for local charities.

Yet in an all time low, even by Derry City Council's standards, local musicians have been informed that preference will be given to local bands who play for free during the upcoming Clipper Festival. Translation: You must promote this city using your time effort and talent for free or we will find mugs who will. It is one thing giving your time freely to good causes but to be asked to play for free whilst outside musicians are to receive payment is an insult to the contribution these fine musicians make all year round in this city. Local musicians have responded with concern at this call by Derry City Council and have launched an online petition.

Support local artists - Derry City Council doesn't!
Now I definitely run the risk of repeating myself but lets put this scenario into perspective: Derry City Council who are none too shy when it comes to spending the tax payers money are asking local musicians/taxpayers who have experienced an increase of 2.58% in their domestic rates bill to play/work for free. I personally would be asking the council if a similar request for free labour will be made to council staff, outside agencies and primarily the local councillors behind this unfair decision. Ultimately will the local councillors be playing active role on a voluntary basis during this event?

It would seem that members of our local political parties are getting carried away with the concept of free labour whether it be agreed at Stormont level under the guise of workfare, were you work for your benefits over a period of time and in doing so help manipulate the unemployment figures or in the latest craze from Derry City Council were you sing for less than your supper!!!!! Our musicians are worth more than that and I would hope that collectively they will tell Derry City Council where to stick this unjust suggestion.

Derry City Council letter to Lord Rana
The lack of appreciation and support by Derry City Council for local creative and artistic talent was also evident last year when Derry City Council refused to adequately fund the restoration of the world renowned Bogside Murals. These murals not only bring thousands of tourists every year to the Bogside but their pictures feature in council literature, as well as that, the murals provide an artistic backdrop as can be seen in most television and news interviews filmed in Derry. 

Generally, when it comes to spending money Derry City Council are usually quite generous to the point of reckless. During the mass clean up of the city prior to the UK City of Culture events Derry City Council spent £80,675.30 to clear the former Tillie and Henderson site owned by none other than the multi-millionaire hotelier Lord Rana.

If the average Joe drops a piece of litter he can receive a fine of up to £80, yet to clear the remains of a derelict building for a gentleman with an estimated wealth of 90 million pounds Derry City Council spent £80,675.30. 

Maybe they could call on Lord Rana for a few songs?

Derry City Council spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on private businesses and derelict premises in an attempt to disguise the wreckage known as the economy prior to UK City of Culture events. I should clarify I have no problem with rates relief being given to small struggling businesses or money being spent that will benefit us long-term however I do have an issue with money being spent on window dressing for the purpose of hiding the reality that lies beneath.

Former Westlife star Shane Filan was paid a massive £10,000 for his appearance at the first City of Culture legacy event which involved him singing two songs.

As a follow up to the 2012 clipper event the City's Mayor and council officials are still being sent to the various ports the race is going to, this is costing the ratepayer £76,000.

I demand that Derry City Council treats our local talent with the respect they deserve in that they are paid for the work they are required to do in the promotion of this city, I'm damn sure they wouldn't ask Phil Coulter to work for free. The contribution made by these artists can only be described as invaluable. It's a pity the same can't be said for our local council who are clearly inadequate, inept, devoid of appreciation, and oblivious to the concept of fair play and pay.

Yours angrily, the rate payer/your wage payer! 

P.S. - Here below is the breakdown of money Derry City Council paid out to 'do up' private properties around the city. I'm sure the 90 Million pound man Lord Rana would consider this pocket change. 

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