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Ambrose clearly has no concept of the CDC’s or Carnival’s role in economy – Boyea

Ambrose clearly has no concept of the CDC’s or Carnival’s role in economy – Boyea

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Dennis Ambrose, the chair of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), is out of touch with what the younger people want.

This is the opinion of Luke Boyea, promoter and proprietor of Hot 97.1 FM, who, in a statement issued Wednesday, lashed back at the CDC head for comments Ambrose made on Tuesday, during a press conference.

Ambrose had referred to an unnamed promoter as “greedy,” among other things.{{more}}

“One promoter wants to have five piggy-back events to ride on the back of the CDC programme while making absolutely no investment into the national festival that is set to benefit the country’s economy”, Ambrose had said.

Boyea’s statement, titled: “Response to CDC Chairman’s Latest Outburst”, said “the annual diatribe from the CDC Chairman towards Hot 97.1 and myself once again laid bare the forces of inertia in Vincy Mas.”

According to the radio station boss, “this saga has been running for the best part of 15 years and shows no signs of abatement, despite the overwhelming paradigm shift within the festival. Mr Ambrose has been diligently on the wrong side of this shift almost from the outset and has seemingly allowed his personal issues to interfere with the demands of his job to keep an open eye to cultural shifts in the market.”

Boyea, the organizer of several events, including Wet Fete, also known as H2O Soca, one of the best attended events during the Carnival season, said that the CDC should look at the fact that the event he introduced to these shores is now mimicked throughout the country.

“Early up in the movie, in one of the Chairman’s early outbursts, he declared ‘carnival is not a wet fete’. This was both a strange and a somewhat ignorant statement,” said Boyea in his letter.

He added that firstly, prior to Ambrose’s comment, no one had in any way declared Carnival to be a wet fete, while secondly, the chair failed to acknowledge the popularity that the wet fete concept subsequently has and which is now mimicked across all constituencies of SVG throughout Carnival and beyond, “a clear sign Mr Ambrose is out of touch with the younger demographics’ wants.”

Boyea said that “in the Chairman’s latest outburst,” he deemed Hot 97.1 FM “greedy” for wanting to host more private events, while stating that the station does not want to make an investment in the national festival.

In response, Boyea stated, “Really Mr Ambrose? This statement alone proves your unsuitability for the post. Apart from the direct contribution we make to various arms of government in the form of VAT, corporation tax, duty, venue rental fees ($25,000 to National Sports Council alone), entertainment tax, CDC for stage etc, we also make a massive contribution indirectly to the wider society in the form of local artiste fees (H2O alone has local artiste fees in excess of $55,000), suppliers of sound, lighting, special effects, stage, tents, photographer, police officers, tradesmen, hotels, restaurants, suppliers of hardware, beverage and grocery suppliers, ECCO, taxi, to name just a few.”

Boyea said that the chair should know that the events hosted by private promoters are not done without a cost and further asked, “Does Mr Ambrose not think these are worthwhile contributions to the capacity within the country?”

Boyea noted that while Ambrose’s statement seems to suggest that promoters are just pimping off the CDC’s hard work and efforts, by the “people volume” he claims the CDC created, that is not the case, as to suggest that will also be to suggest that the hotel industry is also parasitical during Vincy Mas.

“By that logic the hotel industry is parasitical during the carnival season, as are the supermarkets, restaurants, beverage distributors, and anyone else who sees an uptick in their business during the carnival season. Mr Ambrose clearly has no concept of the CDC’s or carnival’s role in the economy. It is no accident that the marketing of the festival is in the hands of the Tourism department and not the CDC’s, the government clearly sees carnival partly as an instrument of tourism from which they can earn much needed foreign exchange. In this light Ambrose should understand that from a governmental standpoint they don’t care who attracts the visitors (private promoters or CDC managed events) so long as visitors are attracted.”

Boyea said that in Barbados, the Government sent a whole delegation to Trinidad to woo the Trini brand name promoters to host events in Barbados as part of their tourism drive.

“…in Mr Ambrose’s logic why bother, it will only help the private sector of Barbados. It would seems Mr Ambrose’s attack on Hot 97.1 is in fact a direct attack on private enterprise itself, surely not the mindset required of the position,” opined Boyea in his penned statement.

The outspoken station owner, who also this year was involved in a Monday T-shirt band, said that many would argue that without the investment of private promoters, Carnival would have gone to the dogs already, but this is a matter of opinion.

“I will only say that the CDC’s function, I don’t think, was ever intended to be promoter in chief rather more as a facilitator. As the Prime Minister pointed out there is no provision in the law for the CDC to block private events and why would there be, this would be granting the CDC control over aspects of the economy itself. On a fundamental level, why does the CDC even see a private promoter as competition? From a macro economic standpoint we are not. For those aspects of carnival which are not economically self-sufficient the government provides a subvention to ensure they take place so why does it require the CDC to block all other activity at that time, this makes neither economic or cultural sense.”

Boyea further asked, “with the 40th Anniversary of the switch in carnival from a pre-lent festival to a summer festival and with the anticipated opening of the Argyle International Airport and with the onward thrust of a market orientated economy, can we really rely on the CDC Chairman with his parochial view of Carnival to lead us into a new era?”(LC)

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