Recog­nis­ing the ECO­NOM­ICS OF EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Melville.cooke@glean­erjm.com

SPEAK­ING AT the launch of the first One World Ska and Rock­steady Fes­ti­val, which takes place at the Ranny Wil­liams En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre next month, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange men­tioned the recog­ni­tion of en­ter­tain­ment events’ eco­nomic value. The min­is­ter of cul­ture, en­ter­tain­ment, gen­der and sport, spoke about the Plan­ning In­sti­tute of Ja­maica’s (PIOJ) con­tin­ued clas­si­fi­ca­tion of en­ter­tain­ment events as re­cre­ation, hop­ing for the day when they will be given their due as eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

A cur­sory glance at the bill­boards and posters which are lib­er­ally placed all over the coun­try, but more heav­ily con­cen­trated in the ur­ban ar­eas, will show that it takes cash to party. Even the events for which there is no ad­mis­sion re­quire that those who at­tend ‘Buy Out The Bar’. (I once saw an ad­ver­tise­ment for a party on Up­per Water­loo Road in St An­drew, where the ad­mis­sion for male pa­trons was ‘two gal’. That is a se­ri­ous vari­a­tion on the ad­vi­sory to ‘bring yu Queen an leave yu ma­chine’.)

On the other end of the pay scale from the free events are the all-in­clu­sive party se­ries in Ne­gril, the type that loans are of­fered for per­sons who need it to be able to at­tend. Some­where in the mid­dle are the fes­ti­vals such as Reg­gae Sum­fest and Rebel Salute, where a sea­son pass af­fords the pur­chaser ac­cess to mul­ti­ple nights.

ALL-IN­CLU­SIVE

There are var­i­ous all-in­clu­sive and VIP pack­ages in the pos­si­ble pur­chase per­mu­ta­tions for par­ty­ing, but a par­tic­u­lar model stands out – Call it the ‘all-in­clu­sive meets all in­clu­sive’, if you will. This is when an all-in­clu­sive party pack­age is com­bined with an all-in­clu­sive prop­erty stay, so the lodg­ing, food, drinks and mu­sic are fused into one at a sin­gle, de­fined prop­erty. Up­com­ing ones are the Mer­ri­tone Fam­ily Re­u­nion on the He­roes Day week­end later this month, with Fab Five among the per­form­ers, and the FAME prop­erty party which fea­tures As­sas­sin and Fred­die McGre­gor.

With the li­cens­ing re­quire­ments, it is not hard to iden­tify how many events are held an­nu­ally (each end of year we are reg­u­larly in­formed of the av­er­age num­ber of par­ties each day, with the ex­pected re­ac­tions about par­ty­ing in­stead of pro­duc­tion). Added to th­ese are the nu­mer­ous events which are held with­out per­mits – they could be as sim­ple as a gath­er­ing out­side a bar with a ‘tin pan’ sound sys­tem blar­ing out the tunes.

In ei­ther case, what we do not have is a fig­ure for the eco­nomic im­pact and it is go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult for any­one, much less an in­sti­tu­tion like the PIOJ which deals in hard fig­ures and not spec­u­la­tion and ap­prox­i­ma­tion, to make the leap be­tween re­cre­ation and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity or en­trepreneur­ship with­out that data. We can say dance­hall events feed the ven­dors and their fam­i­lies, but how much food is that? Is it a cou­ple plas­tic bot­tles of soda or is it whisky?

With en­ter­tain­ment events, there is al­ways the dodg­ing game with the tax­man and there is the time-hon­oured wash­ing of money ac­quired through other (il­le­gal) means. How­ever, the en­ter­prise of peo­ple who do this for a liv­ing is not to be de­nied. From set­ting up the venue to mar­ket­ing the re­al­ity films which are made of the event, keep­ing the books, se­cur­ing spon­sor­ship and ac­tu­ally en­ter­tain­ing the peo­ple when they are at the event, an im­pres­sive skill set is re­quired to suc­cess­fully ex­e­cute an event.

While it is fun for those who at­tend, it is a very se­ri­ous busi­ness for the pro­mot­ers and those hired to en­ter­tain the peo­ple who at­tend. Should this be recog­nised at the stage level? Sure, but the fig­ures have to come first. That is one of the rea­sons why the allinclu­sive model meets all-in­clu­sive model gets its due. There is a set price for rooms and to­tals gen­er­ated are easy to gen­er­ate, no ‘dick­ing’ around how many cups of man­nish wa­ter were ac­tu­ally sold.

There are var­i­ous all-in­clu­sive and VIP pack­ages in the pos­si­ble pur­chase per­mu­ta­tions for par­ty­ing, but a par­tic­u­lar model stands out – call it the ‘allinclu­sive meets all in­clu­sive’ …

FILE PHO­TOS

VH1 ‘Love & Hip-Hop’ cast mem­ber Cardi B was in Ja­maica for Ap­ple­ton Spe­cial Dream Week­end 2016. Hang­ing with her be­fore his per­for­mance at Ap­ple­ton Spe­cial Dream J’Ou­vert was KES lead singer Kees Di­ef­fen­thaller (left) and Ap­ple­ton Spe­cial Dream Week­end Direc­tor Ron Burke.

‘Babsy’ Grange

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