Festival 2013 Report not ready yet

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In 2012, the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee under the Chairmanship of Marvin Blyden impressed with the laying of the Festival report in the House of Assembly three months after the completion of the event; and it was announced at the time that the trend was going to continue.

However, the 2013 event ended in August last year and there is still no sign of the report, even as the Committee moves forward with plans for the 2014 event which celebrates 60 years of festival in the BVI. Questions about the report delay was put to the Chairman at a press conference on Tuesday 1 April and he disclosed that the Committee is still working on the document.

Mr. Blyden did not divulge what the hold-up was, but promised that the 2013 Festival report is going to be submitted before the conclusion of the 2014 festivities. Reporters prompted Mr. Blyden to disclose the reasons for the lateness and he said: “You have to understand what happened last year, as you know when you take over from someone you just can’t rush into the bank and get documents. That is part of our set-back, because we went from one person’s name on the account to another.”

Meanwhile, the Chair assured that lack of accountability does not dominate the draft report. “Looking at the basic report from most of the sub-committees everything seems to be intact,” Mr. Blyden said and noted that the only thing left to do is to finalise the report.

The 2012 Festival and Fairs Committee Annual report was laid on the Table of the House of Assembly on 15 November 2012, by Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walyn. The Minister, before laying the report stressed that the finalisation of the document so quickly after the event was a record and historic occurrence, and thanked Committee Chair Marvin Blyden and his team.

The report candidly articulated issues, challenges and success of the Committee during the 2012 festivities and unapologetically pointed out mistakes and flaws.

The document focused on eight areas of success for the event including the fact that most of the activities started on time. Praise was heaped on the 2012 Miss BVI Pageant Committee and it was stressed that the event was well organised and came off well. It was also noted that for the first time there were contracts outlining expectations between Miss BVI contestants and subsequently Miss BVI and the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee.

The Chairman noted that many businesses were willing to work with the Committee despite past negative experiences, and he noted that public support was evident in the turnout to most of the events especially the International Reggae Night despite the rain.

“The Committee was able to curb some of the careless overspending by getting estimates from recurring vendors. The vendors who were approached in this manner all decreased their invoices. The Committee was able to make a dent in the mismanagement of funds and bad practices, but a few still made it through…Cultural activities and live entertainment were highlighted during the day in the Road Town Village, and detailed and accurate records have been implemented as a matter of transparency and accountability,” the report said.

In relation to major challenges and disappointments the report noted that the “lack of records” was number one as it was noted that there were no files of Festival 2011. It was stated that the former Chairman, Colin Scatliffe, was asked for financial report which was never received for 2010-2011. It was stated that the former Chairman did however, provide bank statements for most months from 2010-2011.

It was italicised that the Committee encountered hostility and sometimes disrespect from businesses and vendors in the community because of the bad relationships created by previous festival committees. It was also noted that there was a gradual turnaround with the vendors and businesses and the Committee said that it hopes to develop a positive relationship with them in the future.

The report announced that the marketing for Festival 2012 was disappointing, and that the public relations officer was not always available to discuss matters and at times when things were brought to his attention little to nothing was done. “There was no clear plan from the BVI Tourist Board who also assisted with the publicity for the Festival. There seemed to be some disconnect and subsequently, the Festival itself suffered from lack of publicity. More could have been done.  A better plan needs to be implemented to attract visitors to our Festivals,” the report stated.

It was also noted that the Committee was disappointed that calypsonians signed a petition and went to Minister Walwyn, and the fact there was only one song: “The calypso show came off in the end, but not without some damage to the integrity of the show and the reigning Monarch, although he does not seem to understand it. The show was a major loss to the VI Festivals and Fairs Committee  and measures need to be put in place to not have this behaviour repeated,” the document said.

A major issue was that the Committee had a 2010 bill from Nibbs Auto Sales and Parts for a vehicle which was rented on behalf of the Committee but got destroyed. It was stated that the matter remains unresolved.

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