Xavyrna Samuels, the Vice Chair of the Festival and Fairs Committee announced that the 2015 artists payment issue that stretched into this year will not be repeated.
The Vice Chair announced during a television program last month that the BVI Festival and Fairs Committee sympathized with the artists and disclosed that measures are in place to ensure that the situation is not repeated in the 2016 Festival that kicks off in a few days from now.
“Their (artistes) frustration is understood, it’s not that we generally try to make a lot of excuses, which we really have some valid ones, but their frustration is really understood; and like I said from this year going forward we are trying to put some cost cutting measures in place that would not allow that to happen (payment delay).”
While noting that things don’t always go as planned, Samuels said: “Hopefully we will see by August how that works out, but we are definitely trying our best on our end to do what we have to do to ensure that local artistes are paid on time.”
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 into 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.
However, it was not until May this year that all outstanding monies owed for Festival 2015 were finally paid. 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 were made to wait for payment.
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 artist come in and they are paid. You have your own people here that you have to see every day, look them in their eye; 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 Village: “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 artistes 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.