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Minister of Tourism and Culture, Carlos James, speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.
Minister of Tourism and Culture, Carlos James, speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.
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Minister of Culture Carlos James has criticised businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, especially beverage manufacturers, for what he says is their suboptimal contribution to Vincymas, the country’s main festival.

His criticism comes as the state-owned Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), which has the legal mandate to organise the festival, is forced to fund it with half of the money it costs.

Amidst that shortfall, the CDC contributes between EC$4,000 and EC$8,000 of the EC$25,000 to EC$40,000 that it takes to hold a rural carnival, eight of which the CDC has authorised across the country. 

James was speaking at a press briefing in Kingstown on Tuesday during which he donated a cheque for EC$12,000 to carnival organisers in North Leeward, for which he is MP.

He said the money came from his own resources and donations from “friends of North Leeward”, to help pay for the cost of carnival activities in the constituency. 

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“Despite the challenge of funding, they have been able to put on activities,” he said, adding that some organisers are ending their rural carnivals “in the red”.

James said it cost between EC$25,000 and EC$40,000 to host “a proper, decent” rural carnival.

The MP said that many rural organisations do not have that funding, adding, “And it’s important for us to recognise that we have to put the resources in. 

“And we’re starting with some of the companies who benefit significantly from the festival. For instance, the beverage companies in St. Vincent and Grenadines, they will tell you how many thousands or hundreds of thousands they’re putting into carnival.

“But how much of that funding is going to a rural carnival committee or the Carnival Development Corporation?” James said.

He said rural communities and the CDC have the legal mandate to host carnival activities.

“But yet, you would appreciate the revenue for beverage companies around Carnival, there is generally a spike.

“And I wouldn’t call any names. But we have to ensure that there is a better working relationship. And some of these companies put a lot more support behind the festival. It’s important that we do it.”

James said that one year, a particular company said they would not sponsor the Miss SVG pageant unless it was allowed to sponsor a particular contestant.

“And I politely told the CDC and the Beauty Shows Committee, ‘Well, tell them it’s okay.’ 

“The fact is, there are companies who are holding resources, their corporate social responsibility, who are holding organisations surrounding festivals, not just in culture, but also sporting organisations, holding a lot of our organisations, community-centred organisations, ransom,” James said.

“And we have to acknowledge and recognise that … what they’re doing is retarding the development of our cultural festivals, retarding the development of sports.”

Culture Minister knocks gov’t

James also suggested that the government needs to put more into the festival. 

“This responsibility is also partly on the government. I’m also saying that even my government, we have put a lot in, our resources in what we need to obviously improve on the funding for CDC and the funding for rural carnivals.”

He said the  National Lotteries Authority (NLA), which was established to support sports and culture, has been helping to fund carnival.

He acknowledged the contribution of the many private sector organisations and statutory bodies that have been helping to fund Vincymas.

Responding to a question, James said the government and NLA have budgeted “significant resources” for rural carnivals.

… if we were to fund every single rural carnival to the amount that is required, it will take the bill for CDC way into the millions — beyond 5, 6, 7, 8 million — easily,” the culture minister said.

He said this is why he was pleading with corporate SVG “and especially our beverage companies to honour their commitment to the festival and to the people who are participating in the festival”.

James said Vincymas has always been a partnership between corporate SVG, the NLA and the government and stakeholders in the festival. 

“… there’s no way that partnership can be effective if one or two of the stakeholders involved are playing the role that they ought to play.” 

Carlos James presents cheque
Minister of Tourism and Culture and MP for North Leeward, Carlos James, left, presents a cheque to North Leeward rural carnival organiser at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Dillon Moris, the Carnival Development Corporation’s coordinator of rural carnivals is at right.

CDC gets $4m to fund $7m festival 

But Ricky Adams, chair of the CDC, said that every year, the corporation goes through “an entire budgeting process” in which, like all other statutory corporations, it presents a budget to the government.

“One of the things that we have said for years is that the actual cost of Vincymas versus what is budgeted for Vincymas is always a significant differential,” Adams said.

He said that the CDC depends “significantly on a lot of goodwill, from entertainers, from service providers, etc. 

“We know that the actual cost or value of Vincymas is somewhere in the region of $7 million. We try to make it work on three and a half to $4 million every year,” he said.

The CDC chairman said that the budget includes support for rural carnivals, adding that the CDC gives EC$8,000 to each rural festival that have all of the cultural components, including a pageant, and EC$4,000 to rural carnivals that do not include a pageant.

Bear in mind we have eight rural carnivals,” Adams said.

“As the Minister pointed out, anybody who’s done any level of event management knows that to put on any event is way more than that. To put on any rural carnival is, as the Minister indicated, in the region of $25,000.

“So the anticipation is that alternate funding would be made available, apart from gate receipts, from corporate SVG, and from friends of the rural carnivals in this case, that would then cover that shortfall.”

As regards accounting by rural festivals, Ashford Wood, CEO of the CDC said that the CDC will ask the executive of the entity organising rural carnival to submit a programme for discussion. 

“And once that approval is given, then we ask them to also bring a budget,” Wood said.

So I’m not saying you’re gonna find a qualified accountant and you’re gonna meet someone with an ACCA or something like that, but you’re going to find at least one person who has experience in finance, who will assist, and management.”

He said that if the committee needs help, CDC will assist.

“So yes, they are well organised and they do get the necessary assistance in personnel and so on where necessary.”

3 replies on “Culture Minister knocks private sector as CDC only gets $4m to fund $7m festival ”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    Carlos James has no clue how much involved is the private sector. I am certain the entire private sector entity puts a lot into the festival more than what Carlos understands. I guess Mr.James wants the money to be given to him so that he can have a press conference and hand out the cheques with his name at the bottom as if it came from his personal account. @dotishism#

  2. Hush up and get off the back of the private sector! Do what you have to do and then go prostrate yourself before the fief in a plea to divert to rural Vincy Mas, the expenditure already approved to fund utterly foolish, pointless and vindictive appeals. Go so!

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