FNM Chairman Michael Pintard.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Chairman Michael Pintard yesterday criticised the government for failing to announce the name of the international artist who will headline the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.
He said it was “inappropriate” for Progressive Liberal Party ministers to “come at the 11th hour” and “suggest that it is not a big deal that such a headliner has not been identified”.
Mr Pintard, who has been critical of the proposed event, said Bahamians who have to fund the bulk of the festival’s costs ought to hold the government responsible for “any and all major decisions with respect to the planning, marketing, and execution of this event.”
Mr Pintard’s statements came after Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said last week that he is not concerned about the delay in delivering the announcement, adding that the goal has never been to let an international artist dominate the festival.
However Paul Major, the head of the Carnival Commission, recently admitted that the issue would compromise the commission’s efforts to secure international business.
Mr Major also conceded on Monday that he would have liked “to have known by now” the name of the international artist the government will choose to headline the event.
Yesterday, Mr Pintard said the delayed announcement is “yet another example of the poor planning of particularly the government ministers who have oversight for this event.”
He added: “The commission as well as the various Ministries of Tourism and Culture, underscored the importance of having an international headliner, because in their estimation that was pivotal in attracting international attention and assisting them in putting heads in bed,” he said. “In others words, the international media and others would be able to see Bahamian talent as a result of having someone of tremendous clout in the cultural community internationally leading the concert. That was the rationale.
“We did not share that view in the FNM. We believe the PLP and the commission is wrong in that regard. However, if that is their rationale, it is inappropriate for them to now come at the 11th hour that it is not a big deal that such a headliner has not been identified.”
He added: “This is yet another example of the poor planning of particularly the government ministers who have oversight for this event. And it is unfortunate given the fact that the Bahamian people have to cough up the vast majority if not all of this money to make this event happen. If the government is investing $9m in this project, ultimately the Bahamian people ought to hold the government responsible for any and all major decisions with respect to the planning, marketing, and execution of this event.”
Mr Pintard also said even if the government were to announce the headline act now, it would not be enough time for visitors to plan trips to attend the event.
“Even if they were to identify a headliner right now, they could not accomplish what they indicated was their original goal, because in order to attract heads in beds, you need advance time so that the wholesalers and travel agents are able to put together their packages,” he said. “Chances are, they’ve already made their plans. They’ve already committed themselves to other engagements in the continental United States or in some other jurisdiction.”
Junkanoo Carnival will be a series of cultural events scheduled to take place in April, in Grand Bahama, and in May, in New Providence.
Officials have indicated it will cost $9m to stage the event. Last month it was revealed that only $1.5m has been spent so far.
Previously, Mr Wilchcombe would not confirm reports that the government was trying to lock down Barbadian singer Rihanna to perform at the festival. However, he said, the government was “giving consideration” to “certain names” with which it had been presented.