UPDATE:After enraging festival stakeholders and participants with an impromptu date change, the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival (BJC) is back on for its original date of May 4 to 6, The Tribune understands. FULL STORY HERE.
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Junkanoo Carnival band owners yesterday said they will set aside any “ill feelings” over this year’s postponement to help “salvage” the Bahamas’ image, despite admitting they had collectively lost “millions” due to the last-minute move.
Dario Tirelli, the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association’s (BCBOA) president, told Tribune Business that members were “very disappointed” over the festival’s postponement from May 4-6 to May 18-20.
“It’s most important that we salvage the image of the country than the pockets of a few businessmen,” said Mr Tirelli. “As nationalists we have to protect the image of the country.
“We are disappointed. The dates were announced since last year, and the whole world was gearing up to come to the Bahamas. Business owners, including Carnival band owners, and souvenir buyers have already purchased items, supplies, equipment etc. They all would be hit financially.
“Foreign resellers have already paid down on costumes, paid for plane tickets and hotel accommodations. We have seen the negative fall-out on social media.”
Mr Tirelli added: “We have decided to work with the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) to see how best we can salvage our relationship with our revellers moving forward on the Road March.
“We have decided to work as one to market the country as a Carnival destination and not be adversarial in the press. We have to be on one accord. There are some things being worked out, and we will make an announcement on that shortly. We have been talking to the international press from Canada straight down to Brazil and even Europe. You would be surprised over who wanted to come to the Bahamas this year.”
As to the financial impact of the postponement, Mr Tirelli said: “We’re looking at millions in losses, easy. That’s industry-wide. You’re talking about band owners, DJ’s, equipment owners, insurance, VAT, import duties, T-shirt, vendors and we have to consider the impact on our sponsors as well.”
The Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC), organisers of Junkanoo Carnival, just last week announced the line-up for this year’s event, withTrinidadian singers, Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, as headliners.
The BNFC also revealed that this year’s event had been “streamlined” after the Government slashed its subsidy by 50 per cent. The Nassau leg of the event, which was scheduled for May 4-6, has been postponed to May 18-20, with the Grand Bahama leg that was scheduled for April 28-29 scrapped altogether.
The BNFC yesterday explained that it made the “difficult decision” to postpone Junkanoo Carnival due to conflicts with the general election timetable.
“Despite the event being only a month away,” the BNFC statement read, “the Commission took the difficult decision to change the date in order to provide the highest level of participation, safety and production quality in light of a recently announced general election timetable that conflicts with the original event dates.”
It continued: “The 2017 event will also be consolidated to one island on one weekend. The Music Masters semi-finals will take place in Nassau instead of Grand Bahama. While the Commission will miss celebrating Bahamian music, culture and vibes with the Grand Bahama community, it looks forward to resuming its two-island format in 2018 with Grand Bahama continuing to host the semi finals of the song competition.
“The Commission assures the public that the event will still deliver three non-stop nights of cultural activities and performances, with a top line-up of Bahamian musicians and regional artists; and revellers will still storm the streets on Saturday afternoon (May 20) for Road Fever,” it aded.
“The Commission regrets any inconvenience caused to participants as a result of the change in date and encourages fans of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival to prepare for a weekend of pure music, culture and vibes from Thursday to Saturday, May 18-20.”