Is Saint Lucia's Jazz Festival Worth the Investment?

The end of this year's Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, especially in the context of the country's ongoing budget debates, has led many netizens to wonder about the economic impact of the event.

In the Facebook group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress (S.L.A.P), Wilson Baptiste held out no hope that the festival would ever turn a profit:

Should the St. Lucia Jazz be classified as a social program like STEP, NICE, SMILE, HOPE? As a result, this will remove the expectations of generating a surplus for the island's tourism industry.

Mainstage, Sunday; photo courtesy Lucian, used with permission.

Mainstage, Sunday; photo courtesy Lucian, used with permission.

Iain Sandy felt that managing the festival had its own benefits apart from creating revenue:

On a serious note, the execution of a Jazz Festival with all its moving parts, its external components and the risk of experimenting with the festival, was no easy feat. We must understand that we are still a young nation and have not had exposure and experience in many areas. As a result, we will make errors and we will go over budgets in executing these events. Therefore, with this backdrop, we should all commend the Jazzereras for an outstanding Jazz 2013.

Moko Jumbies; photo courtesy Lucian, used with permission.

Moko Jumbies; photo courtesy Lucian, used with permission.

Commendations aside, Anderson Queto wondered how profitable the festival actually was:

Hey…does anyone know if we made back the $8M spent for Jazz?

Kimani Goddard responded:

The Jazz Festival is an event held to create a multiplier effect in the economy that would not otherwise not be there at this time of year. It creates business opportunities in several sectors of the economy that go beyond what government spends in terms of social and economic impact. Breaking even in terms of gov't expenditure plus the multiplier effect I mentioned before should be considered successful.

 Leigh Allan suggested that more could be done to spread the benefits of the festival:

Does Jazz have to make a profit, break even or make a loss? I think jazz when it was created way back when was designed to fill up hotel rooms with tourists that would spend in and around jazz events. I'd be happy if more locals got a piece of the pie and opportunities to profit and participate in the events. This season was great mostly because it allowed more communities to benefit at the actual events than ever before. Hopefully in the future Jazz events will be held in even more communities and include even more locals.

R. Kelly; photo courtesy, used with permission.

R. Kelly; photo courtesy, used with permission.

The Jacksons

The Jacksons; photo courtesy Three Media, used with permission.

The images in this post are by and Three Media, all used with permission.

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