Sep 28, 2009

Party Promoters and Patrons Fight The Recession

While economic good tidings doesn't seem to be coming any time soon for the entertainment industry, as the global economic recession continues to take a swipe on all things music oriented, promoters, artistes and entertainment personalities are trying to stay afloat through tough times.

The current financial crisis has been called one of the worst by experts since the Great Depression which started in 1929. As jobs and billions of dollars are lost worldwide, Jamaica and its entertainment industry continue to feel the crunch, as the country looks to resume a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund.

Last year, the industry saw a reduction in overseas bookings for local artistes, tour dates and local stage shows due to economic difficulties.

What should have been the sixth anniversary of Cocoa Tea's Original Dancehall Jam Jam at the Jamalco Sports Club in Clarendon didn't happen due to the economic stress. When The Sunday Gleaner spoke with the promoter last year, he claimed that the financial meltdown had resulted in a 200 per cent increase in costs, one that he could not afford. While things have not got better for the singer, and while he hasn't got any major sponsors on board, Cocoa Tea says the show must go on this year.

"Tings nuh get betta yuh know but because di people want the show we're bringing it back," said the veteran singer of hits such as Rikers Island and Young Lover.

"Dem give it to me last year so dis year, no matter what, because of the people we're having the show. Despite the hard times, people want enjoyment 'cause there's not many big shows down here and things to do."

According to the singer/ promoter, promotion for the show has already begun around Clarendon via car stickers. Cocoa Tea said he has also been directly affected, with his monthly shows reduced from three to one.

Matthew Gray of Coppershot Disco believes that this year has been a lot worse than last year for the entertainment business on a number of levels. He explained, "If you notice there has been a lot less roadshows and shows put on by the corporate world. If you look at the dances as a whole over the summer, people picked and chose where they went, persons didn't want to risk going to the new parties. They went to the established names. A lot of people didn't go out to try and save for events like ATI as well. This recession needs to hurry up and done."

When it comes to bookings for Gray's sound, he explained there has been no dramatic decreases but that allowances have to be made for promoters who can't afford the original price.

Although some parties may have felt the pinch this year, and while it may be harder for new parties to emerge, not all fledgling events have suffered from the slow economy. New party to the scene, French Kiss, is one of those that have learnt to cope with the economic lag. French Kiss had its first party in February, achieving enough success to host the event a second time in the same year, which will be on October 3 at the Pantry in New Kingston. Summer Bar-Raage also began this year and the promoters will be hosting their second event, Winter Bar-Raage, this Christmas season.

French Kiss promoter André Burnett said, "The rough times made us think outside of the box and that is why we employed the Internet so much in the first event. Most Internet channels are free so by us being innovative and thinking of ways to reach more people at a cheaper cost we will be around for a long time. What we are also promoting is value for the dollar since every dollar is so hard to come by nowadays. It's harder as a new party to grab the attention of newly cash prudent partygoers, so the onus is upon us to provide the best package for the best price."

In Parliament on March 31, Prime Minister Bruce Golding predicted that the global financial recession would end sooner than most initially thought.

While the global piggy bank has stabilised in recent months, the entertainment fraternity is eager for a return of the golden days



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