By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Carnival band owners have seen "pretty good" sales ahead of this year's festival, Association (BCBOA) president Dario Tirelli said yesterday, describing the Government's non-involvement as a "positive change".
Mr Tirelli, head of the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association (BCBOA), told Tribune Business that the 17 registered band owners were anticipating a successful festival weekend.
"I think it's going to be successful. We have got some bands that have sold out," he said. "Bands are making money, and we can't wait for Road March on Saturday. Sales have been pretty good for a lot of bands. It's still a competition, so they're not going to reveal numbers, but based on the conversations with the bands, everything is looking good."
Mr Tirelli said much has changed with this year's Bahamas Carnival festival, but added that this was largely positive. "There have been good, very positive changes. We don't have the Government's hand in it any more," he added.
"We have a private promoter, Polantra Media, which took up the mantle of making sure the concert series happens as best it did in the last three years. The band owners were always a key part of the festival because of the road march. Things are going very well.
"The Government's hands are not in it any more, and that is a plus. With private citizens investing in Carnival, they are trying to make a profit. The Government had so many rules and stipulations that they put in in relation to the bands. We had nothing to say or do with the concerts, the village and all of that," Mr Tirelli continued.
"We did what we have always done without any financial support, and put on the greatest show the Bahamas has ever seen on the road march. With these guys on board, you can see and feel the intense and direct marketing that was needed. The Bahamas and the world is feeling there is a carnival is here."
Michael Pintard, minister of youth, sports and culture, indicated earlier this year that the Minnis administration intended to completely privatise Bahamas Carnival ahead of the 2018 festival. In 2015, the Government spent $11.3 million on the inaugural event, going over its initial budget of $9 million. The total cost of the first carnival was $12.9 million, with the rest covered by sponsors.
In 2016, the festival incurred a cost of $9.8 million, $8.1 million of which was subsidised by the Government. The 2017 financial report has not been released. However, Paul Major, the former Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) chairman, said $4 million was spent on the 2017 version.
"The greatest loss is the fact that there is no Music Masters competition. The promotion and the events were government subsidised, and I must applaud the BNFC for what they did in light of what they were dealing with in terms of budgetary constraints and the need for government approval," said Mr Tirelli.
"With private citizens investing they are trying to make a profit, so of course they are going to make as much impact as they can in terms of marketing, sales drive and that sort of thing. The marketing has been really intense, and the band owners have been involved, which is a plus."