Events in Kingston marketed as tourist pull factors
With the decline of live stage shows in the island, several concerned event organisers are now playing their part in an effort to keep that section of the industry alive.
Last year saw the owners of Reggae Sumfest selling shares in the event to businessman Joe Bogdanovich, in a successful attempt to save the show which was struggling to cope with tough economic times and scarce sponsorship. Sting 2016, however, was not so lucky and was cancelled, much to disappointment of many of the show's supporters.
Sting's cancellation saw the rise of the Portmore Music Festival, which was held on December 29 at the UDC Car Park in Portmore. The Sunday Gleaner recently spoke with co-organiser of the event, Steve Billings, and he explained that Sting's cancellation opened doors for business; however, the organising team still endured similar issues having to do with the lack of sponsorship.
"We saw that there wasn't going to be no Sting, so we decided to host the event. We wouldn't have gone forward had Sting pulled through. However, we are now looking to make this show annual, because the feedback we received was very encouraging. So regardless if Sting comes back, we are still going to host the festival because it is a reggae show, so it's not competing with dancehall," he said.
As it relates to the scarcity of sponsorship for live events, Billings said even the Jamaica Tourist Board turned a blind eye to their proposal.
"You have to be in certain circles to get sponsorship in Jamaica, and unfortunately for us, we are not in those circles. There is no tourist attraction in Portmore, and we thought we could use that point to sell the event to the tourist board, but not even that worked ... so we eventually decided that we were going to host the show with or without sponsors," he said.
The promoter is, therefore, requesting that the Government pay keen attention to the state of event management and production in the island, highlighting that Europe and Africa are doing better with Jamaican music.
Organiser for Magnum Dream Live, Ron Burke, told The Sunday Gleaner that he felt embarrassed to know that Jamaica's capital did not have one single live music event that foreigners could aspire to attend. A confident Burke also noted that Kingston's staging of Magnum Dream Live, was a success and that the event will blossom into a tourism product like Dream Weekend.
"There are shows in rural areas, and there are shows in Europe, and we need shows in Kingston. People tend to think that live shows won't work in Kingston, and we proved that wrong. I also notice that our radio and TV stations have been saturated with foreign music, so we ensured that the DJs only played reggae and dancehall, because we should learn to hone our own culture and make it marketable," he said.
Other live events in Kingston include Ghetto Splash and East Kingston Extravaganza.