All outstanding monies owed for Festival 2015 were finally paid, Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced this week.
In the latter part of 2015 local musicians began to complain that they did not receive payment for their performance during the 2015 Emancipation Festival. The matter was dragged in 2016 at which time it began to get media attention. The musicians were very vocal and many took to Facebook to vent on the situation.
During a press conference on 3 May the Premier told the media: “I will be able to confirm that the monies that vendors have been waiting are all taken care of, so they are not owed any money.”
In March, Junior Minister of Tourism, and At Large Representative, Hon. Archibald Christian criticised the fact that local entertainers who performed at the 2015 Festival had to wait many months for payment.
During his budget debate contribution on 22 March the Junior Minister described the situation: “It is unfair for local vendors to still be owed money almost a year after Festival…there is no other way to put it. It is just unfair.”
The At Large Representative said that the situation is one-sided because international artistes were given their pay for performance during the same period while the local performers had to wait for months.
“You have international artists come in and they are paid. You have your own people here that you have to see every day, look them in their eyes and say: we working on it things are coming, but you know we having some problems.”
The At Large Representative recommended that going forward BVI performers be the majority on any given night at the festival: “We must always be the majority…two local bands, one international. The local band, the DJ, whatever; they are the ones that should be front and center.”
“We cannot afford any longer to have all these international people come to the Virgin Islands get paid and our local artists are still six, seven, eight, nine months begging to be paid.”
Nonetheless, Hon. Christian said that he is happy that the Premier, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith has been able to find the funding to pay off the vendors, bands and other persons who offered their services for festival 2015.