Nathaniel Stewart/Freelance Photographer
LEFT: A section of the large crowd which attended Guinness Sting 2007 at Jam World, Portmore, St. Catherine.
RIGHT: Kamal Bankay of Five Star Entertainment.
Sadeke Brooks, Gleaner Writer
Inflation is expected to rise sharply this year. As expected, this will help to determine the amount of money that the public will have to attend parties, as well as the cost of hosting the events.
"The causes of inflation are beyond our control. Wheat is US$10 a bushel for the first time ever and doubled since year (over 2007). Corn price increased, so chicken price increased," says Kevin O'Brien Chang, political analyst and writer of the book, Reggae Routes.
He adds: "The more you spend on food the less you will have to spend on parties." Hence, says Chang, the public needs to increase their productivity so that the country's income will increase.
Limited disposable income
GT Taylor, who is the promoter of 'Magnum GT Taylor Christmas Extravaganza', says that while prices are increasing, people usually put away money for the events they attend during the Christmas season.
"It (inflation) has affected us heavily. The money has to come from somewhere and people's disposable income is limited," says GT. He says the increases in the production costs of events are not always felt by the patrons, as the promoter will absorb some of the cost. He says the cost of producing events has risen tremendously within the past couple of years, as things that would normally cost $500,000 now cost $800,000 or more.
"We have to increase the admission now because we want to put on a professional event with good security and line-up," he says.
Consider patrons' pockets
The entry cost of his show increased from $1,000 in 2006 to $1,200 in 2007. Taylor says the increase was small because the patrons had to be considered. "We have to look at the average person and make the cost within their reach. I could go higher on the gate to break-even, but I can't. If we increase the cost significantly then it will cut the attendance," Taylor says.
He says that the increase in inflation will not necessarily reduce the number of persons attending a party. However, the effects will be seen at the bar because people will be spending less.
The effects of inflation are being felt by other promoters like Kamal Bankay of Five Star Entertainment, which is responsible for parties like 'Mimosa', 'Housexy' and the recent 'Heineken Green Synergy Regional Finals'. "Inflation affects us, because the cost of producing events has increased by 50 to 60 per cent within the last three years and they have doubled in five years," said Bankay.
He says the consumer will have to pay more in the long term, but in the short term the costs will be absorbed by the promoter in the event that third party suppliers increase their prices after the party was already planned or the tickets were already printed.
Dependence on bar revenues
He promotes several all-inclusive events, but also does other events that cost approximately $500 for entry. At these events, Bankay says, he is dependent on the revenues from the bar to make a profit, but since the cost of liquor has not increased there is no need to increase the prices at the bar.
Isaiah Laing, the head of Supreme Promotions, says the cost of a pre-sold general admission ticket to Sting increased last year to $1,500, up from $1,200, due to the increase in the costs for producing the event. "We have been absorbing the costs every year for the last seven years," adds Laing.
Patrons feel pinch
The patrons are also feeling the effects of inflation on their partying habits. Chrystal, a Mandeville resident, says the increase in the inflation rate is affecting her greatly, but she will continue to go to parties, even with the increasing costs. "Our dollar doesn't have any value. Yuh can't go to a party with $1,000 'cause a Magnum cost $300 and a Heineken cost $200 an' yuh can't buy $500 gas. One outfit a cost between $10,000 and $15,000," says Chrystal.
Another perennial party patron, Blacks, who is a taxi driver, says it is important to go to a party to release stress from work since he does not go to church regularly. "From yuh a work it (inflation) nuh matta. Most a di event dem weh mi go free, but mi plan fi spen more than $10,000. If mi bring a katty she a guh want something fi eat an' drink so dat mean extra spending," says Blacks.