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Festivals Minister: UN vetted lineup of local artistes for Play It Out concert

Amid an ongoing public debate about the number of local artistes slated to perform at the Play It Out concert tonight, the Minister of Sports, National Festivals, Culture and the Arts, Daryll Matthew, has spoken out in an effort to clear the air on the matter.

Matthew, while speaking on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show on Friday, explained that the decision on local artistes was not left to the government but with the United Nations which vetted all the artistes and selected the ones best suited for the event.

“I have heard the discussion in the media about not enough local artistes being on the show. We need to remember this is not an Antiguan show. This is a collaboration between the UN, Norway and Antigua and the artistes; specifically the international artistes have been a part of the UN Ambassadorial and the UN Goodwill Ambassadors team.

“We sent a list of local artistes because we insisted that there must be some local artistes on the show as well. The UN does a very stringent due diligence examination of all the artistes named that were submitted and made a selection of artistes that are able to perform at the event. Would we have loved to have more? Absolutely,” said Matthew.

He also addressed another public contention about the show’s international line-up. Matthew reminded the public that the event is an international one and as such must include a diverse line-up from around the world.

“We don’t want to lose the focus that it is an international event that will be broadcast to millions of people across the world and so it must be an international cast as well. While there may be one or two artistes that local persons are not entirely familiar with, the list of artistes was put together by the UN with our support and our assistance as well to reach that broad cross section of persons.

“You have an artiste from Ghana, one from South America, they are international and global artistes and not just Caribbean and regional artistes,” Matthew explained.

Matthew concluded by reminding the public of the true focus of the event, which is to bring awareness to the urgent need to end plastic pollution.

“I don’t want persons to forget that this concert is not just a big party and we go home. It’s a concert that’s being put on to bring awareness to the whole issue of plastic and the havoc that it is [wreaking] on our society and our environment. There are going to be other things that will be taking place throughout the show other than artistes’ performance.

“The run sheet isn’t just about where the artistes will sing but about when the UN General Assembly will speak; where the representatives from Norway will speak. It’s a full production and not just a party.”

The Play it Out concert is part of the campaign Against Plastic Pollution launched by the President of the UN General Assembly in December of 2018, and is aimed at tackling plastic waste both on the global level as well as within the UN itself.

It will be hosted by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Norway. Other campaign supporters include the governments of Monaco and Qatar, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Krim Group, National Geographic, and Lonely Whale.

The event will be held at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket stadium with gates opening at 4 pm, while entertainment is expected to begin at 4:30 pm with soca artiste Machel Montano and R&B star, Ashanti headlining. 

Admission to the concert is free.

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