Jazz and Arts Festival taking away too much resources from Tourist Board — Chairperson

By SNO Staff

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Agnes Francis, SLTB Chairperson

Agnes Francis, SLTB Chairperson

The Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is rated one of the largest tourism events on island, but the new members of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) believes that the festival is taking away too many resources from the $34 million annual budget allocated to that organisation.

Newly-appointed Chairperson of the SLTB Agnes Francis has said that since assuming leadership of the board, members have been spending time trying to understand the operations, and while doing so, they have discovered that one third of the annual budget of the SLTB is allocated to the Jazz Festival alone, which puts a strain on finances left for marketing.

“The Jazz Festival I must say is the vehement that has been driving the Tourist Board. In fact, the entire operations of the board revolves around the Jazz Festival at a certain point of the year. So from around March to June/July the entire focus of the board and its resources is on the Jazz Festival,” Francis told the media on Thursday.

In light of this, the new board has written Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee and the new government urging them to make a policy decision on the Jazz Festival, especially since no marketing activity takes place during preparations for Jazz, which in the board’s view, has a significant impact on its ability to generate arrivals for Saint Lucia.

“We are anticipating that the government makes a decision on how the Jazz Festival can be managed because it is really taking away a lot of resources, both financial and human, from the marketing that the SLTB needs to do.”

Asked whether the current budget is adequate, Francis responded saying, “I don’t want to say that it is enough or not enough. But in effect, the board has about $10 million to market Saint Lucia, when you take out the Jazz Festival, admin and other commitments that it has.”

She continued, “Ten million spread over the US, UK, Canada, Germany, the Caribbean and France, and when you convert that to these national currencies, it is really not a lot of resources. And with the role that tourism is expected to play in the national economy, we have to drive business and this is part of the reason why we think the allocation is not being spent properly…and of course if we have more we will do a lot more.”

However, Francis said having recognized the state of the economy and the need to maximize it’s resources, the board will be looking at new strategies to market Saint Lucia.

The Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival was once ranked among the top three festivals in the world.

The event rakes in millions of dollars each year in visitor expenditure that covers accommodation, transportation, meals and even handicraft sales, and at one time earned as much as $2 million dollars.

The first St. Lucia Jazz Festival was held in 1992 as an initiative to extend the tourist season and increase foreign exchange in Saint Lucia into May which had previously been a relatively quiet period.

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  1. After reading the comments from the “Armchair Pundits”, the majority of them missed Ms Francis’ point of her suggesting that another entity or organisation take over the Jazz and Arts Festival, and not for the SLTB to “rebrand” or “make it more marketable”.

    I am in total agreement with her to pass on, or forward, the Jazz and Arts Festival. It was time. While they do have the (successful) blueprint, I am sure they would have no qualms in passing it on to a more responsible organisation.

  2. Here is my opinion, Jazz has turned into a sort of carnival or reggae party and that has taken away from the essence of what the festival should be about. Also, what happened to the BET sponsorship both in terms of money and overseeing the Jazz festival.
    I think that we should focus on many local artists in St Lucia and the Caribbean coupled with a few high profile world wide artists. Leave the dancehall part out of this as we have enough Jamaican artists performing in the country throughout the year.
    Focus on the real Jazz atmosphere just like it was when it began years ago.

  3. Ask St.kitts and Nevis how it is done for the CPL….huge profits…….they bid to host the finals and the profits speaks volume… Check their chapter.

  4. The St.Lucia Jazz festival Has been a very sucessfu( international)l event, and can continue to be such.The running of this festival should be put out for tender I am sure there would be quite a few entertainment companies willing to invest in this festival if they were given the right incentives. put it out in the open and I am sure there would be a flood of companies willing to get involved. Maybe even BET might want to take it over again or perhaps Cuthbert Dedier can call up on a few of his contacts and make a go of it.

  5. The Board has asked the Government for a decision. But has the Board made a recommendation to the Government on the way forward? As suggested an economic impact assessment/cost-benefit analysis of the Festival must be done. If the Festival is not contributing to the marketing objectives of the Board but is having a positive impact on the economy and on national income then some of that money can be returned to the Board to finance non-Jazz marketing. If it’s having only minimal impact then it should be scrapped.

  6. Maybe it’s time to take another look at the festival
    Like rebranding ad re marketing strategies

  7. The financial case was not made. The analysis is very confused and more than confusing. There was no clarity. Not a word was explicitly mentioned about cost-benefit.

    Key question: Are the returns in terms of financial benefits if the externalities can be identified on the jazz festival covering the cost or financial outlays. That is the key question.

    Before doing the usual La Rose quadrille dance around our national issues, let’s get very clear about the basic berefit-cost issue. There is no proper management decisions without a solid basis in numbers. Otherwise, everything is just the usual pie-in-the sky. We had a lot of that last time with the last government. We have been fed enough similar crap already in this country. Let’s get very serious about expenditure. Now more than ever before, we have very little money to waste.

    Government ministers do not pay for their wasting of our money. Taxpayers do.

    • Anonymous, I am with you on that thinking. Until the public is aware of cost- benefit ratio, we can’t see through the statement. Are they able to capture the intangibles of the event? Garcon, I known new management like to put their stamp on things; to show that they are working. I hope this is not a case of striking the iron while it’s cold.

  8. Jazz Festival, i think it has passed his zenith and it’s worth to have a critical look at it.

  9. If you spend 24 million dollars (34 million [budget] – 10 million[whats left after jazz]) to earn 2 million dollars I do not think that is a success. Even considering the long term benefits of the the event. Remember this money is not spent on local artists and artisans so it does not remain in the economy. It is basically being spent on high earning foreign artists who take the money away. Also it isn’t a biennial event, it is done every single year. Hasn’t the tourist board been doing economic assessments on this event. Someone would have to explain to me how this is a good idea.

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