Aware that the odds of becoming a successful performing artiste may be thwarted without a network of support professionals, Janelle Headley developed a programme to help fill that void for aspiring young performers.
Her performing arts academy, Operation Triple Threat (OTT), established in Barbados 2011, develops and trains young performers between the ages of 4 and 21, helping them to become better prepared for careers in the creative sector.
However, as was the case with much of the performing arts, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on OTT’s operations in 2020. Headley turned to the Caribbean Development Bank’s Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF), applying for one of the grants which the Bank offered to MSMES operating in the orange economy in the wake of COVID-19.
“When we applied to CDB for assistance… we had lost a lot of our livelihood. Our ways of fund-raising to keep our programmes and services functioning, had dried up. We had lost our major shows and so the funding that we received from CDB will go towards sustaining as well as expanding some of our programmes and services.”
Dr. Marielle Barrow-Maignan, Coordinator, CIIF at CDB shared that the Fund had received over 300 applications from 17 of the Bank's 19 Borrowing Member Countries. She noted:
“The Emergency Relief Grant was introduced to provide support at a critical time because we knew that the COVID-19 had severely affected venue-based activities and the flow of value-added supplies throughout the CI sector.”
For OTT, the funding was especially critical as it operates with an inclusive business model, offering and supporting arts training for students of all backgrounds.
“Our programme involves quite a lot and so it can be costly. A lot of our students are on full or partial scholarships and so you have a mixture of persons from low-income communities and at-risk youths and we also have those persons who are quite wealthy and they all work together and are treated the same,” explained the OTT principal.
The grant of US$20,000 will help OTT transfer their programme content to an online platform that allows for continuity. They are also aiming to create new online content aimed at community-building with a focus on vulnerable youth.
Headley emphasised what the CDB funding meant for OTT and their students.
“With the grant from CDB, it helps us to put on our showcases and also to expand our training and development to a wider range of persons. As a result, our students are not deprived of their training.”