By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The leader for Junkanoo Carnival’s bands said yesterday they were seeking “at least” a $1 million subsidy from the Government to stage this year’s parade, adding that the event could be bigger than Trinidad’s Carnival in five years “if we do it right”.
Dario Terrelli, president of the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival Band Owners Association (BCBOA), said costume sales were only now “cranking up”, adding that the uncertainty surrounding the May 6 festival date was hurting business.
“Persons come to the Bahamas for the road parade, not necessarily the village,” he said. “We want to also play a part in the international marketing because we are the ones talking to persons internationally all over the world.
“We can’t answer questions as to whether May 6 is set in stone. It’s hurting business because people can’t plan their trip, and most revellers plan their trip a year in advance. Since last year they mentioned May 6, and then went quiet.
“We have already pumped thousands of dollars in preparation for the road parade, building prototypes of costumes and doing our own marketing. We would like to be able to go around the region and have some sort of brand presence.”
Mr Terrelli backed calls for the privatsation of Junkanoo Carnival, telling this newspaper that that the Association should own the franchise or at least be in the discussion to get it.
“We feel as though Carnival was actually the road parade. The first persons to talk about franchising should be the band owners,” he said.
“We do have a company, the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association, as a legal entity registered as a business in the Bahamas. The conversation should start with us. We own the parade. We put costumes on the parade. We are supposed to have a presence on the commission when they are planning carnival. It didn’t happen last year. I was there the first year, but the second year, there was no presence on the Board for any of the bands.”
Mr Terrelli added: “We are advocating that we own the franchise or at least be in the discussion. People come to the country because we are soliciting them through our costume sales and packages deals. It’s a pity that we are not in the discussion.
“They have this hands-off approach with us and we don’t know why. The Government nor the festival commission gave us one dime last year. The entire parade, with 10,000 plus persons, was funded by each band. There are 21 registered bands now. We are working together to ensure that we put on the best parade. We want this to be the carnival of choice in this region. We estimate that in five years we could be bigger than Trinidad if we do it right.”
Mr Terrelli called on the Government to give band owners a subvention to carry out the necessary preparations for this year’s parade.
“We are asking the Government to give us something. They give subventions to Junkanoo. Tourism spends money promoting most festivals, so what’s the problem promoting us? Give us a stipend and we will put on the best parade,” he said.
“For the first three years we could understand that they pumped money in to ensure that it happened; we’re talking about the concert and village. Beyond that they still should fund the bands, give us some money towards marketing and make sure we put on the best parade.
“It takes about $57,000 to put 150 people on a parade. That’s a whole experience; not just making costumes but food, drinks, DJs, gas, sound systems, insurance and those sort of things.
“We’re looking at at least $1 million should be given to the association to distribute to the bands to help them get on the road. We can let private persons put on the concert. There are three big promoters in Nassau and they do an excellent job.”