By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The carnival-style festival planned for May 2015 could stimulate year-round employment in the creative industries and create an economic spin-off of $27 million its chairman said yesterday.
Paul Major, the Bahamas National Festival Commission’s head, while addressing the Rotary Club of East Nassau, said the idea behind the carnival-style festival is to create an economic stimulus that advances Bahamian culture beyond simply a spectator event “to where we can produce some millionaires, as every other carnival on earth has done”.
“Carnival is among the largest income-generating festivals in the world bar none,” Mr Major said. “We are seeking to raise $7 million. Being a realist I don’t think that is going to happen.
“We have already started talking to some prospective sponsors, and sponsors are a little queasy about putting up money before they see history.
“It’s going to cost about $9.5 million to put this thing on. If we are lucky we will have a $2-$3 million deficit. If we are not, we will have a $9 million deficit,” he added.
“We are talking, however, about a $27 million GDP impact of increased economic activity throughout the country even if we don’t make $1 in revenue.”
Mr Major said the idea for a Bahamas Carnival was conceived by Junkanoo icons such as the late Vincent ‘Gus’ Cooper, Percy ‘Vola’ Francis and Arthur Gibson.
“This was born out of the Junkanoo community. The icons of Junkanoo are who formed this idea,” added Mr Major.
“This has to do with economic stimulus designed to advance culture in the Bahamas beyond where we are, going from a spectator sport to where we can produce some millionaires such as every other carnival on earth has done.
“Our mandate is to stimulate sustainable economic opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the creative sector. That is not Junkanoo. Junkanoo just happens to be one item in our cultural community,” he added.
“We have artists performing and visual, we have people in cuisine. We have cultural activities in the Bahamas that are struggling, including Junkanoo. We have have musicians who are screaming the loudest because they cannot find work in the Bahamas.
“Our mandate is to change that so that people will enjoy the creative arts in the Bahamas, and Bahamians are able to make a living out of it. We want to bring to fruition a Bahamian-styled carnival by May of next year. We want to stimulate year-round employment in the creative sector and positively and significantly impact GDP,” said Mr Major.
“Junkanoo costs the Bahamas, individuals, the Government, sponsors, probably around $3.5-$4 million a year and no one in Junkanoo can boast about making a living off it, much less being a millionaire.”