By LETRE SWEETING
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN the aftermath of The Bahamas Carnival festivities, some groups are concerned about the level of financial support and foreign engagement the event attracted.
Alrene “Ann” Balfour, the owner of Xtasy Da Mas Band, said it was a challenging year.
“We had quite a bit of challenges leading up to carnival,” she said. “One of our main challenges was getting local sponsorship and local support. But through it all we were able to still come out and a lot of support from past persons who have participated in the band. We were still able to get to the road.
“A lot of the bands dropped out the week of carnival. They said they couldn’t make it and that’s because of local sponsorship too. We don’t get the support like Junkanoo. I guess we tried to do carnival like the other Caribbean and ours got started late, of course, but it is what it is.”
Ms Balfour said insufficient early advertisements caused financial challenges.
“We had one sponsorship from Liquorland, a local company that came on board maybe a month before carnival. It wasn’t a lot of advertisement going on in terms of getting the bands out there,” she said. “The whole thing was not advertised like it usually is, so therefore, we didn’t have a lot of out-of-town persons participating. I think we maybe had about four persons because we had persons calling saying, ‘hey, what’s happening with Bahamas Carnival? We don’t see any advertisements or anything being posted to say that carnival is here or it’s coming.”
Sean Burrows, owner of the Euphoria Madness band, said many participants signed up late due to financial constraints.
“This year, we didn’t have the number that we normally have, but we kind of expected that because a lot of persons are just coming out of that COVID situation,” he said. “So you know some persons still haven’t really caught themselves financially. I think some persons really wanted to sit back and observe to see how 2023 would go.
“In terms of my revellers, everyone had a good time. The challenges we had, I would say, would be early sign-ups. We had a lot of late sign-ups, and, of course, you know the main factor is sponsorship. It assists with the cost of the road. I feel as though 2023 went off very well.”
“As you know only six bands participated this year. You know it isn’t cheap to bring a carnival group to the road so if persons could get some good sponsorship, that start-up money would be a great help to get things rocking and rolling until the time for persons to start purchasing their costumes. We still had a good number of spectators observing and watching so it shows that persons are still interested in watching it. But other than that everything went well.”
Meanwhile, Island Rhythms Mas Band owner Dario Tirelli said careful planning and strategy starting in January had his band prepared for the challenges.
“To make a profit, you either have a big income or cut your expenses,” he said. “So from January, we realized that the local revellers did not want to pay what they normally pay for costumes, so we watched the trend and the market. We went heavy with a t-shirt package, but we did have some costumes and that was a business decision by myself and our business partners.
“After 12 months of planning, after testing out the market with this new route, it happened. What we decided was not to incur too much expense so we streamlined based on costume sales, which was horrendous this year. We decided that we can’t, you know, just take a big loss, so we decided to streamline our expenses and that’s what we did. And I must say, we were successful in that.”
Mr Tirelli also spoke about sponsorship challenges the band had this year.
“We did get some sponsors. Unfortunately, the two big sponsors normally only sponsor two to three companies and that’s it, which is unfortunate. I think they need to look at us as one big product.”
“Our business model is to bring in income for the country as it brings in income for us. So we’re pushing the orange economy. The expectation for the future is more foreign dollars in, more foreign revellers. That’s also where we took a hit, with foreign revellers, because that’s where the big revenue comes from. And the expectation is to continue to build the product,” he said.