Jazz & Arts Festival 2015 Doing More With Less!
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.