The just concluded Saint Lucia Jazz, the music festival that has become a staple on Saint Lucia’s annual entertainment calendar, came under tough criticism from the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Thursday.
Party leader Philip J Pierre said the festival is now in a coma, thanks to the government, which changed its format in 2017 by stripping it of the other music genres that used to be part and parcel of the week-long event.
The government also reduced the amount of money spent on the event in the past to EC$4 million. EC$11 million was spent in 2016 for the event’s 25th anniversary.
There were also major venue changes this year. The Pigeon Island National Landmark, a traditional and iconic setting for the main days of the event (Saturday and Sunday), was axed from the venue list, almost at the last minute. THE VOICE has learned that Events Saint Lucia, organizers of the festival, had earlier booked the Landmark.
The Ramp, Rodney Bay, never a formal venue for the festival over the years suddenly found itself a premier venue on Saturday. An enclosed tent was set up there for the band and audience. A new venue in La Feuille, called Shangri La also came into the picture on Sunday. Both venues, though much smaller in size than the Landmark, failed in generating the atmosphere so long associated with the festival, which had become recognizable in the jazz world.
Pierre said this year’s Saint Lucia Jazz did not generate the type of economic activity that it usually does from which vendors of all types benefit.
He challenged organizers to show how beneficial this year’s festival was to the country in terms of cost, returns and visitor numbers.
He then compared this year’s festival to that of 2016, with returns on ticket sales at $2.4 million, over $20 million spent directly in the economy and a visitor arrival increase of over 1000.
Pierre has promised to restore the festival to what it once was should his party be elected back into government.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party pledges that on its return to government, it will take all necessary steps to restore Saint Lucia Jazz to its former glory and return the benefits of that musical festival to the largest number of people as possible,” he said.