Jean-Eric “Notch” Smith

(CNS): A long-running dispute between members of the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association escalated last weekend following an angry reunion that resulted in what appears to be a new attempt failed to oust the current president.

Some CMEA members, described by longtime chairman Jean-Eric ‘Notch’ Smith as a ‘rogue faction’, have accused him of ‘colossal incompetence and mismanagement’ of the organization, which is supposed to promote Caymanian talent in music and entertainment. sector.

Smith, who served as CMEA president for more than a decade, defended his tenure, saying that for years he was the driving force in protecting and helping local musicians and invigorating the local music scene, which he described as “a thankless job”. .

During Smith’s tenure as head of CMEA, the ongoing dispute has divided both the executive and members over a host of issues, where both sides of the divide have raised complaints, allegations, grievances and counterclaims, in addition to arguments about legitimacy. votes at general meetings, leading to a largely dysfunctional association.

Regardless of who is right or wrong, some members, both executive and non-executive, believe that the whole membership, who are struggling more than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic, have failed for years because of internal fighting. as well as Smith. management style. They say the association has failed in its core mission of helping all Caymanian musicians and artists gain fair and equal access to forums to promote their talents or get regular gigs.

In a statement released after Sunday’s AGM meeting, Smith made allegations of proxy fraud and impropriety after Steve Errol Reid claimed he won the presidential election with 53 votes to Smith’s 47.

However, due to the confrontations and angry exchanges at the meeting, the usual vote for the full executive did not take place, only the vote for the president. Therefore, there is currently no formal Board of Directors in place.

Meanwhile, Smith, who is still the listed president, is challenging the legitimacy of the vote and has launched an “internal investigation” into voter fraud. At this point, the CMEA continues to be divided between supporters of Smith and those who oppose him.

“Disgruntled members” of the association who support Smith raised concerns about the legitimacy of Sunday’s vote, alleging, based on a written affidavit, that absentee members’ proxy votes were manipulated. On the other side, the “rogue faction” says Smith repeatedly broke association rules to retain the presidency, which Smith vehemently denies.

However, the CNS understands that several CMEA members are asking for an audit of the association, which they say is long overdue. Members filed numerous formal complaints with the Registrar of Companies, which oversees the register of nonprofits, to no avail. In the past, several executive board members have complained about Smith’s failure to file annual reports and properly document association activities, and to hold meetings without notice, among other issues.

CMEA receives approximately C$20,000 annually in public funding and has been instrumental in selecting and distributing stipends to musicians who have been impacted by COVID-19 related border closures.

Paul Inniss, compliance officer for the nonprofit registry, held a mediation meeting in February 2020, but since then there have been other claims of illegitimate votes and general meetings.

After the 2020 AGM ended in a failed impeachment of Smith, despite executive claims that Michael Wilks was successfully elected as the new president, another complaint was filed with Ennis and the Companies Registry. Despite a follow-up last year, nearly two years later, the ROC has not addressed these members’ concerns.

CNS has contacted Ennis regarding the status of the complaints and we are awaiting a response.

Meanwhile, responding to his criticisms and the numerous complaints about him, Smith told CNS that under his leadership, CMEA has gone from red to positive cash flow every year thanks to the successful events he has organized.

He said he was responsible for the deal with local radio stations for fair airplay for local musicians. He also said he had created countless work opportunities for local musicians and songwriters, including seeking sponsorship to revive the National Song Contest, and brought DJs under the CMEA umbrella. .

“Along the way, I’ve been recognized and victimized, but I still fight for what I believe is right and just,” he said. “My methods can be unorthodox at times, but I get results and I’m proud to say I’ve never bullied anyone.”

Nonetheless, Smith remains a controversial and controversial figure who many members believe is at the heart of the association’s myriad problems and that it is time for him to step down. But he said it was nothing new.

“The CMEA has always been divided,” he said, as he made allegations against previous presidents, accusing them of using their position for personal advancement. “My time to step down will be when I am fairly rejected by the majority or when I decide to leave.”

He added: “To tell the truth, I wanted to leave CMEA years ago, but unfortunately nobody wanted to work towards becoming president. Everyone wanted him after serving on the board their first year – a year in which they refused to work. So they didn’t deserve to be presidents, and the members made sure of that.