It is costing promoters close to one million dollars to produce the highly anticipated Hennessy Artistry show, which comes off next month and will be held over three days instead of one.
And the high price tag is a result of the headliner coming this year – US-based singer and songwriter Lauryn Hill. Jamaican reggae and dancehall artistes Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Tarrus Riley will be the other major acts.
“This show, on average, without a superstar, costs about $600 000 or $700,000 to produce. This year, because of the status of the international superstar, we are looking at about just under $1 million,” explained Al Gilkes, director of FAS7Star which produces the show.
He said while the show was meant to feature artistes from a mix of musical genres, and not just reggae, there was “a hat full of people for consideration [but] a lot of them fell through the bottom of the hat because we can’t meet their price”.
Gilkes said the annual event, which is in its eighth year, would benefit the country tremendously, not only through visitor arrivals but also through aggressive spending by patrons on clothing and other items in preparation for the show.
And with the events scheduled for the December 2 to 4 weekend, right after the island’s 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations, the producers are hoping for a spillover effect as well.
“The trickle-down effect includes the number of people who are coming in, not just for Independence but for this. Our first overseas question about having a flight into Barbados for the show came from Martinique, and we understand there are at least three charters that are coming out of Martinique and Guadeloupe alone, bringing French people,” Gilkes disclosed.
“We know there are tons of people coming from New York, Boston, the tri-state area, and other parts of the United States, and then there is the number of Barbadians from the Diaspora who would be here specifically for the Independence celebrations but would stay on a few more days and spend a few more thousand dollars in the Barbados economy.”
The show promoter added: “We know Bajans from all over the world are coming in and they are all excited to be celebrating the 50th Anniversary, so we just wanted to extend the celebrations a bit more for them.”
However, Gilkes said the biggest money earners from the event would be businesses in Barbados, especially boutique owners and hair and nail salons, adding that drink suppliers and chicken producers would also cash in.
On Friday, December 2, the show will begin with a cocktail party at Cin Cin restaurant in St James, entitled A Taste of Hennessy.
The main show, Hennessy Artistry, will be at the Kensington Oval the following day.
The three-day event climaxes on Sunday with the Hennessy On The Beach at Pirates Cove. That show will feature Jamaican dancehall artiste Aidonia, and Bajan artistes Stiffy, Scrilla, Marzvilleand many more.
Gilkes told journalists that whether the three-day format would be repeated would depend on how it works this year.
“If it turns out to be a success, then without doubt it would continue to be the format to be used forHennessy Artistry,” he said.
But even before the event comes off, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley has encouraged the promoters to stick with the new format.