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JAZZ – Time For Change

Popular Festival Remains But Under New Name.

THE event known as ‘St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival’ will no longer carry that name, however the primary activities staged under that banner have not been abolished, contrary to reports that may have given the impression this was the case.

The misunderstanding lies in a move by government to group all national festivals under one banner which is loosely being called the Summer Music Festival to be managed by a Festival Commission. This Commission is expected to be established hopefully within the first week of next month, according to Donovan Williams, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture.

Image of Agnes Francis
Agnes Francis

Chairperson of the Tourist Board, Agnes Francis erased any doubts about the elimination of the jazz in the month of May when she said that the first activity under this new entity, called the Summer Festival, is a jazz week.

“We will have a week of Jazz from Sunday 6 May until 14 May, 2017. It will culminate at Pigeon Island on Sunday 14 May, also Mothers’ Day. It will be a more quality Jazz event with greater Saint Lucian and Caribbean content. The line-up has been finalized at a very reasonable cost and will be announced very soon. Pigeon Island as a main venue for weekend concerts continues and other venues will be used to decentralize the impact of the jazz event,” she told reporters Friday.

Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee also confirmed the continuance of the jazz festival by stating that the May event is only being reconfigured.

“It will have a new name and that new name will in no way dilute the festival or the impact it will have on the small hotel sector, the entertainment or events management sector and all the other ancillary sectors that depend on what we know as the St Lucia Jazz Festival. The reality is that the time has come for change,” Fedee said.

According to him the $14 million spent by the Tourist Board on the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival almost each year was outrageous and not in keeping with the manner in which the Board’s $34 million budget for the year should be spent.

Image of Senator Fortuna Belrose
Senator Fortuna Belrose

“The changes are going to allow us to have a developmental component to music, the arts and culture. It will give our destination that missing element of soul, flavour, heartbeat, which will make us more attractive,” Fedee said.

Minister for Local Government and Culture, Senator Fortuna Belrose explained government’s reasons for amalgamating the management and general control of national festivals under one administration.

“Our citizens have not been able to effectively capitalize on the economic potential of our unique and diverse culture. This is so because of the disconnect that exists across sectors and the absence of effective systems for linkages in all of these sectors. We believe that greater effectiveness in the deliveries of our Creative Industries can help us realize this. Government has therefore agreed to establish an entity that will concentrate on the production and management of national events and festivals. The objective here is to brand St Lucia as a destination of events and festivals linking it directly to our tourism product so that we can optimize the contribution of festivals to national and community development and to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the production of these events and festivals,” she said.

“We anticipate that this new approach will create some tension but it will assist us in connecting with the critical sectors as our national events will not be regarded as stand-alone activities but as part of a package. The events we speak about are our music festival which will be held over the summer. We also have our carnival, food and rum, Creole Heritage festival and sailing regatta. Initially we will focus on about five projects,” the Minister added.

Image of Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee

Regarding the new entity to manage national festivals Minister Fedee believes that St. Lucia had missed the mark over the years in articulating and properly defining the strength and value of its culture.

He said: “I am very excited for the tourism industry because now we have another dimension that is being developed and articulated and we as a government will ensure that we bring it to the front burner. We have to change the way we do things. We will now have a season of festivals which we will be launching and that will include a week of Jazz, to be named properly. It will also include Carnival, Creole Heritage Month and other exciting initiatives which we will tell you about in more detail. We should not accept that there ought to be a low season and a high season; all months are important. People have bills to pay whether it’s the high season or the low season. So we have to look at the summer more strategically,”

“The Festivals Commission gives us a chance as a country to correct a lot of the wrongs that have occurred with the jazz festival. We just could not continue. Things were not right and we had to change it,” said Minister Fedee.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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