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Sponsors needed

by Leigh-ann Worrell

Al Gilkes makes a point to Digicel’s Alex Tasker.

Al Gilkes makes a point to Digicel’s Alex Tasker.

Across all genres, event promoters are singing the same song: the duo of increasing costs and dwindling sponsorship is making it hard to stage entertainment events in Barbados.

Higher fees from service providers, including the Royal Barbados Police Force, along with a depressed economic climate have caused the curtains to come down on the Digicel Bajan Reggae Night this year.

Al Gilkes of FAS Entertainment has revealed that if the financial situation does not improve, more events could be suspended from the Digicel Reggae Festival’s 10th anniversary lineup.

“We were constrained and feeling the pains of the recession and it has forced us to … eliminate one of our products, which was the Bajan Reggae Night. Unfortunately, we were forced to do it because, done initially to develop the reggae genre in Barbados, it was the least beneficial to us [as] a revenue generator. We took the decision this year … to suspend it until things improve…,” Gilkes said while making remarks at the launch of the reggae festival last night at Kensington Oval’s 3Ws stand.

“If the economy does not rebound too soon rather than cutting one event, we may find ourselves putting everything in the strainer and see what is left back.”

He assured the local reggae fraternity will be represented at other events, notably Reggae on the Beach and Reggae on the Hill. The reggae vibes sound off on April 21 with Reggae on the Beach at Brandon’s Beach and continue with the Vintage Reggae show and dance on Friday April 26.

The Reggae Party Cruise has returned and will also be a birthday celebration for singer Tarrus Riley on Saturday April 27. The next day will see the culmination of the festival with Reggae on the Hill.

The veteran entertainment promoter revealed the police had hiked the costs of its services. Effective this year, some amenities which were complimentary now have to be paid for. This included the mobile command post, which will now run at $1,500 per event, motor vehicles — $50 per event, the mobile unit for $500 as well the dogs and horses used, which will now cost $200 per day.

“I have no problem with it because I understand why it has been done. But I am just using it as an example to show expenses increase continuously and we cannot,” Gilkes continued.

He noted that sponsors were also faced with their own economic difficulties and were not able to give the same level of support as in years past.

“Whereas in better years our sponsors we could ask our sponsors for a few dollars more or a little more assistance, in recent times they have been asking us to take a few dollars less.”

Organisers of soca events were also facing a similar situation.

Barter system

Promoter and director of the popular Soca Titans event said the organisers have had to rely on a form of barter system in order to meet their costs, while working with sponsors.

He was also involved in the planning of the recently-held Socatology event headlined by Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons.

“It was not difficult to find sponsors but we were working with not so well known sponsors. We worked with them to secure raw materials such as chicken and fish. We would pay for some and get some free products,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Soca Titans has also been in that direction, Alleyne said.

The promoter of the Crop-Over event assured the quality would not be comprised and will maintain the cost of tickets to avoid placing extra strain on patrons.

“We are in negotiations to bring back Machel Montano for Soca Titans, and he expects a certain standard with the venue, lighting and the whole nine yards, just like the other artists.”

Making ends meet was also an issue for the island’s Christian-oriented events.

“It is a challenge for all events,” organiser of Gospelfest, Adrian Agard told the newspaper.

The 21st staging of the week of gospel in all forms will begin on May 18, 2013.

“We talk about cultural industries and its development but the costs are high… There is [Value Added Tax] to be paid, COSCAP (Copyright Society of Composers Authors and Publishers Inc.) and other various costs. These things come off the ticket price, and sometimes even before the tickets are sold.”

However, Agard believed the sponsors he attracted were interested in seeing a “more positive Barbados.”

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