Many businesses losing out from no Music Festival

By Val Henry, MyVue

Basseterre, Thursday, 24th June 2021, (MyVue, Thursday, 24th June, should have been the start of concert performances for the St. Kitts Music Festival, but the Coronavirus has destroyed all that.

Concerts would have also taken place on Friday and Saturday.

This week too should have also produced “best sales days” for small businesses, (outside of Christmas).

Too often, the focus is on the party and fun, not realizing that this thing called St. Kitts Music Festival is actually about business. It is the same mistake made about St. Kitts & Nevis Carnival and Culturama in Nevis.

This clouded view tends to hide the real picture of economic activity that emanates from the weeklong event in June. Those who know better would remind that it was precisely the reason the festival was founded in 1996. To stimulate economic activity.

Former Soca Monarch of St. Kitts & Nevis, Rucus at 2019 festival

Instead of a week of high revenue generation, the people of St. Kitts & Nevis and the entrepreneurial sector, in particular, are locked away, trying to protect themselves from a raging virus that has recently produced a more dangerous strain that spreads more quickly than previous versions.

Hundreds of small businesses are therefore this week missing out on huge profits that would have been realized, were it not for the intervention of COVID-19, and the cancellation of so many major events.

It is no secret that some, if not all, of these small and medium-sized enterprises, depend on the staging of mega-events like this festival, and those in the summer and December, to generate much-needed revenue that accounts for a greater portion of their annual income.

The squeeze is being felt by barbershops, beauty salons, boutiques, videographers, photographers, food and drink vendors, nuts trays, caterers, decorators, water sports, taxi operators, craft vendors, models, DJs, locally-based artistes, event planners, promoters, and so many more.

It is difficult to ignore the wages and fees that dozens of young men and women would have secured from the stage construction, security operations, transportation, stage management, cleaning companies, marketing, hospitality workers, waitresses, waiters, graphic designers, gate personnel, renters of fencing material, dancers, ferry operators, and the mom and pop shops across the island.

Local team of workers helping to set up festival stage in previous year

The owners of these enterprises and their families are some of the most affected victims of this once-in-a-century virus spread.

However, it is not only small businesses that benefit from the tremendous revenue flow.

Hundreds of thousands also find the coffers of large companies involved in renting vehicles, supermarkets, media houses, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, airlines and hardware stores.

The losers are not only found in the private sector. The government too is losing out on huge sums from potential Hotel Room Accommodation Taxes, Restaurant Taxes, Value Added taxes paid on almost all categories of business transactions listed above.

Everyone is losing. The economy is losing. And instead of this week being a time of much excitement, with thousands of visitors in the country, it is one of somber and sober reflection, with a curious eye on the future.

Economic Impact Studies commissioned by the government in the recent past would also support the financial cost of no Music Festival this year.

A group of local artistes who have performed at the Music Festival

Yes, the visiting artistes do benefit from their performance fees, but it would be difficult to find any of the small businesses listed above who would not tell you that they are feeling the hurt of no festival this year.

Many of these too would meet a similar fate if there is no Culturama in Nevis this summer, and to an even greater extent, it would be devastating if there is no “in-person” celebration of Sugar Mas 50!.

But, the virus is serious. The Premier of Nevis said it has come to kill us. And medical experts have reminded us that it does not discriminate. It attacks all. No matter the social standing, political affiliation, religious belief, or views on vaccination.

Coronavirus kills the believers and non-believers of vaccines. It is the “common enemy” seeking a human transport to harm and kill, suggested the Minister of Health of St. Kitts & Nevis.

The best defense is a united and patriotic stance. Vaccinate, if you can, and have no bona fide objections, wear your masks properly, not partly under your neck, and do what your mother always told you, wash your hands, (or sanitize).

But of all actions, the best fight is not the vaccine or even the mask and hand sanitizer. It is keeping your distance, staying at home. Or as King Rockerfella once sang, “Stay in your lane.”

If we do, then who knows?

Featured Photo: Bar workers and patrons at Roogoodoo’s Bar in 2019

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