Bring on the artists! What artists? Municipality nearly blows R750 000 for ‘holiday music event’ with no performers – before holiday commences
Knysna Municipality was on the verge of splashing R750 000 on a one-day concert touted as a “cultural cohesion music event” on 8 December, but without having confirmed that any of the artists were available for the event. As it turns out, they were not.
The municipality’s Youth Desk told council that artists such as DJ Tira and NaakmusiQ were available, but according to a service provider who intended to bid for the tender, when he enquired about the availability of the national artists at Afrotainment he was told that the artists were already booked elsewhere and are unavailable on
The service provider asked not to be named due to fear of victimisation.
“I was told that, unfortunately, the artists are not available on the proposed date,” he stated.
Public outcry on social media, followed by a decision by acting municipal manager Johnny Douglas to withdraw the tender and cancel the event, fuelled speculation that Knysna escaped spending an exorbitant amount of money without proper preparation.
“Once it became clear that certain bid specifications for the music festival’s tender were not in accordance with our supply chain regulations, our acting MM immediately withdrew the tender,” Knysna mayor Mark Willemse explained in a statement released last week.
The event was marketed as a festival that would increase the local economic footprint and establish a “youth development culture” in the Greater Knysna area. The motivation submitted by the municipality stated: “The fact that we will be able to host this event over the December holidays will add to the increased spending over the festive season. The timing of the event means it will benefit from the school holidays, the return of the Plett Ravers as well as year-end bonus payouts.”
Advertised before council decision
But, in fact, schools only close on 12 December, which means the event would have been hosted before and not during the holidays. And despite the great outlay for the municipality, the community for whom the concert was planned would have still had to pay an entrance fee.
Furthermore, a tender to organise the event was already advertised, and a preferred bidder identified, prior to any council decision on the matter.
The tender document stated the request for several tents, 250 white covered chairs, various platters of food, 400 cases of carbonated drinks and bottled water – all for VIPs who may not be charged for their tickets and would be invited by the municipality.
Expenses of one-day event
A breakdown of the some of the expenses are as follows:
Eight national artists to be paid amounts ranging from R55 000 (DJ Tira) to R20 000 (Paxton) for their performance. The total costs just for the artists amount to R220 000. A local performing artist: R50 000 Sound, stage and lighting: R150 000 Crowd control and security: R70 000 Marketing of the event: R50 000 Social programmes and projects which would run in conjunction with the event, such as a disability programme, a Young Woman initiative, and a renovation project to name a few, would cost a total of R150 000.
‘Youth Desk worked alone’
“It is a pity that the Youth Desk had worked alone on this project. I must reiterate that, despite what rumourmongers might believe, no councillors, nor senior management were aware of the extent of this planned music festival. Once councillors became aware of the costs and other conditions, they raised their concerns which led to the revisiting of the tender documents,” reads the statement from Willemse.
The matter was an item for discussion during a special council meeting on 6 November, and was opposed by several DA councillors, including Willemse who stated that “R750 000 for a single event was an exorbitant amount of money”.
Councillor Eleanor Bouw-Spies expressed similar sentiments, whilst councillor Donovan Pofadder cautioned against the rowdy crowds and public drinking before mentioning an incident earlier this year where a young woman was involved in an accident upon returning home from a similar municipality-organised event.
A “cultural cohesion music event” that was planned for 8 December would have cost the municipality R750 000.