Jazz & Arts Fes­ti­val 2015 Do­ing More With Less!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

The fact that there was lots of fat or “gwes” to put it in Cre­ole, to be cut from the Saint Lu­cia Jazz & Arts Fes­ti­val was ob­vi­ous. So glar­ing that even Jim “Coco” Snow, yet to be a per­former on the fes­ti­val ticket, could have pointed this out. It had to be done for there to be any re­al­is­tic shot at re­al­iz­ing a profit or break­ing even. It was also ob­vi­ous that af­ter stag­ing the event for 23 years, most of the skills and equip­ment be­ing out­sourced was avail­able right here on is­land.

For starters, the or­ga­niz­ers of the 2015 Saint Lu­cia Jazz & Arts Fes­ti­val, the Saint Lu­cia Tourist Board, have had a much re­duced bud­get to work with: EC$5.5 mil­lion I am told, as op­posed to more than EC$8 mil­lion in 2014. BET/PKB mid­dle­men have been ex­cised. BET is no longer re­spon­si­ble for the pro­duc­tion of the event; for the first time it will be han­dled by lo­cal com­pany, MCE Sounds.

This year, the SLDB is pro­vid­ing less sup­port for the com­mu­nity events, some of which have been able to stand on their own with the sup­port of spon­sors. Th­ese in­clude Soufriere Cre­ole Jazz (put on by the Soufriere Re­gional Foun­da­tion) held on Fri­day, May 1 and Fond d’Or Jazz, which gets un­der­way later to­day, Satur­day May 2. This event will fea­ture Carimi, Avot Servis and Zouk Ma­chine.

Some of the com­mu­nity events have po­lit­i­cal back­ing. Th­ese in­clude Anse La Raye Jazz, Monchy Jazz and Jazz in the South, which will be held this Sun­day May 3, head­lined by the Mighty Shadow. The event, I was told, came about af­ter some arm twist­ing. This, af­ter it was an­nounced that Labowi pro­mo­tions, the body re­spon­si­ble for putting on Jazz events in the south with very lit­tle fund­ing, was un­able this year to carry the bur­den.

On Sun­day May 3 the Cul­tural Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion will also stage “Cul­tural Icons,” a trib­ute to Charles Cadet, as part of the fes­ti­val cal­en­dar. The show at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre will in­clude the Saint Lu­cia School of Mu­sic band, Bar­bara Cadet and Ron­ald “Boo” Hink­son.

Re­vamped, re­designed and now with a greater in­put of the lo­cal cre­ative sec­tor - fash­ion, po­etry, drama, culi­nary, even car­ni­val, the Saint Lu­cia Jazz & Arts Fes­ti­val is ex­pected to at­tract thou­sands to the is­land be­tween April 30 and May 10. Per­for­mances be­gan on Thurs­day with a Caribbean party. Per­form­ers in­cluded De In­vader, Sedale & Wild­fire, and Dupes from Saint Lu­cia, Chronixx of Ja­maica and Trinidad’s self pro­claimed “queen of bac­cha­nal” Des­tra. The par­ty­ing con­tin­ues all week with Jazz on the Square May 6-8 at the Derek Wal­cott Square; Jazz on the Grill at Fire Grill, May 3-11; Tea Time Jazz on May 6-7 as well as free per­for­mances at the JQ Mall, Bay­walk, Blue Coral in Cas­tries and a craft vil­lage in Rod­ney Bay on May 5-9.

HOT Cou­ture takes cen­tre stage on Wed­nes­day May 6 at the John­sons Cen­ter un­der the di­rec­tion of Mae Sab­baghWayne. The event will fea­ture de­sign­ers from Turkey, Trinidad, Cuba, Guyana, Guade­loupe and Saint Lu­cia. Back for the third year in a row, this event has set a bench­mark for events of its kind, not just in Saint Lu­cia but through­out the Caribbean. For many it has be­come the jewel in the Jazz & Arts crown.

Then on Thurs­day May 7, straight ahead Jazz re­turns to the (re­fur­bished) Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre. This show­case will fea­ture Alain Jean-Marie, Grant Ste­wart and Joey Defrancesco.

On Fri­day May 8 it’s Caribbean Night at the Pi­geon Is­land Na­tional Land­mark, with Saint Lu­cian born Reg­gae sen­sa­tion Me­shach, Kros­fyah of Bar­ba­dos, and the king of sweet har­monies and lovers rock Beres Ham­mond.

The Saint Lu­cia Jazz & Arts fi­nale will take place Satur­day May 9 and Sun­day May 10 at the Pi­geon Is­land Na­tional Land­mark where thou­sands will con­gre­gate to the food and drinks, take in the mu­sic and the am­bi­ence, as well as the head-turn­ing fash­ion­istas. Satur­day’s event will fea­ture, Ar­turo Tappin, John Secada & Tim­balive and FloRida. Sun­day’s fi­nale will in­clude Derede Wil­liams and Jesse Billy of Saint Lu­cia, Chrisette Michele, Jimmy Cliff and Robin Thicke.

With the fes­ti­val now well un­der­way, I have just one fi­nal wish: that the SLTB would fi­nally show slate this year and pub­lish a fi­nan­cial re­port of the fes­ti­val. Can I get po­lit­i­cal back­ing of var­i­ous shades on this one? I’m hold­ing my breath!

Caribbean acts like Beres Ham­mond and In­ter­na­tional Su­per­star Robin Thicke are

set to make a splash as this year’s Saint Lu­cia Jazz & Arts Fes­ti­val.

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