St. John’s Antigua- Yesterday a caller on Voice of the People suggested that the Carnival shows be turned over to private entrepreneurs as a way of overcoming the impasse that seems to be developing about payments owed for last year.
Another caller asked if there have been audits done on the total expenditures and expenses from previous Carnivals.
These two separate bits of information are pertinent and inextricably linked. Does anyone really know how much money the Carnival shows make? If they are profitable, why aren’t some of the proceeds going back to pay the artistes and winners? Where does the profit go?
If they are not profitable, what entrepreneur in his or her right mind would want to undertake the task of organising an event that will bring them no return?
Event planners everywhere else in the world will tell you that the first step in putting on a major event is setting up a plan and a budget. They go through what is expected to happen, step by step, and then set estimates for the amount of revenue that potentially will be generated, and the total expenditures it will take to get the job done.
If the comparison produces a negative figure, they begin to look at either changing the plan to make the event more attractive and well attended, or scale back the expenditures, or look for other sources of money such as sponsorships. Prudently, they couldn’t proceed without this examination – and their organisations and potential sponsors rightly wouldn’t allow them to.
We’ve heard rumblings in the past where the Carnival Development Committee says they need to re-think the level of prize monies and they need to look at changing the shows to boost attendance. But we haven’t heard anyone say, “I’ve looked at the budget, and think we need to do something to bring things into balance.”
They can’t say that if a budget doesn’t exist. And more importantly, while they talk, they don’t actually do anything to make changes. When they propose something like cutting back on prize monies, the hollering begins and they back down. So nothing changes.
Since we don’t know what the figures are, we can’t tell if the idea of charging registration fees will make any difference in the running deficits. Although anybody can see that a mere $50 fee wouldn’t result in the millions apparently needed to support the bacchanal activities.
Given the size of our population, the attendance at the shows isn’t going to be the huge numbers like they get at the Trinidad Carnival. But a few of the shows have fairly good attendance, such as the Party Monarch show where 8,300 people showed up in 2010 and a similar number in 2011. With a ticket cost of $40, that would mean the potential take at the gate would be $332,000. And then there is the additional revenue from the main sponsor and, for an astute organiser, a percentage of the bar and food concessions.
Not knowing the specifics, it would seem that this would be a sufficient amount to pay out for prizes and all the service providers and still leave something for the organisers. This show has all the potential for interesting a private business person.
However, the Calypso Monarch show has a much smaller audience, about 2,000 people. The revenue potential is much less, and the need for government support becomes more obvious because few good businessmen would want to get involved.
Where the real money is made during Carnival is at the fetes and big bashes that precede the main event. These carry on successfully every year, so the organisers must be profiting somehow.
Here’s an idea. These fete organisers know how to put on a big event, market it successfully, and make money. How about having them take over the staging of the shows?
Make them responsible for submitting and plan and a budget, showing how they will cover the prize monies and expenses and attract a maximum number of attendees. If they can break even, it takes the pressure off the government; if they make money, they are welcomed to it for their hard work and professionalism.
With the dire financial straits the CDC seems to be in right now, it’s definitely time for some ‘out of the box’ thinking about how shows can be staged without support from the government. Then let them pick up the tab for those parts of Carnival that may not be commercially viable.
Start thinking of the business of Carnival, and how it can be made to work for the artistes, participants and stakeholders in a way that everyone comes up happy. Then perhaps we can put an end to this “pay me or I don’t show up” dance that we’ve been going through the past few years.