On New Year’s Day Lindeners resolved to put their disappointment over the relocating of the football finals behind them and lent support to a mega show hosted at the Mackenzie Sports Club (MSC) ground in an attempt to salvage some economic gains.
Although it may take some time for the idea of a big show to catch on and replace the bonanza the Kashif and Shanghai Football final used to net, promoter/investor Leonard Forde said he was satisfied with the support the community gave him.
Forde who is also president of the Region Ten Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the show received “very good support” though it didn’t necessarily make a profit. Nevertheless, he said it “was a resounding success” as it brought some economic benefit to the community, which suffered with the removal of the New Year’s Day football final to the National Stadium at Providence. The tournament had been held in Linden for 18 years.
On January 1 the usually hectic pace of shopping that had been the norm in Linden was subdued; though it was evident that the community was readying to support the venture attempting to fill the gap. Clothing stores and boutiques stayed open along Republic Avenue and hucksters were out, plying their trade. Lindeners also took to the streets for their usual late evening lime.
Though it was clear that traders were not experiencing the normal rush, many recognised that were it not for the much-anticipated Serani and Cecile show later in the evening their economic prospects would have been practically nil.
The show had been slated to begin at 10 pm, but the main artistes did not take to the stage until after 1 am, one immediately following the other. Forde said he had expected the artistes to perform earlier in the evening, for an hour each and that there would have been a break between each performance to give the bar more support. He said too that if the performances had been held for a longer period it would have given persons returning from the football final an opportunity to experience more of the event. Instead, Forde said, the show wrapped up around 2 am and persons who entered the ground after the tournament left to lime along the streets.
As regards sponsorship, Forde said he had expected more support. He said the ticket prices were set with this in mind and therefore were not profit-centred. In the end Ansa McAl Trading, distributors of Carib Beer; and regional carrier Caribbean Airlines were the only major sponsors, with other potential sponsors indicating that they were approached too late for funding.
Forde told this newspaper, too, that Value-Added Tax (VAT) officials had a count of 1,900 persons entering the show, a huge shortfall from the expected 2,500 to 3,000 persons. It was noted that this number was tallied from the mainly pre-sold tickets costing $1,800, not the gate price of $2,000. This newspaper understands that some teenagers were allowed into the show at a reduced cost of $1,000. The MSC normally sees crowds of over 10,000 on New Year’s Day.
As a result of the limited proceeds, some services rendered at the show were only paid between 50% and 75% of what had been promised. Forde used the opportunity to apologise to local acts like Alabama for their unfortunate experiences pointing out that in future he intends to handle the local aspect of the entertainment. This newspaper has learnt that there were some hiccups regarding payment and accommodation for Alabama.
However, Forde remains undaunted, vowing that for the next show, “we are going to try to bring more powerful artistes.” He said too certain aspects of the show may be different adding that the team needed to plan a budget to avoid overpaying for some services.
Investment for the show was made under the company Alternative Contracting with agent Wildfire Promotions.
For the next three years MSC will be the host venue for mega shows every New Year’s Day. It plans to reach out to the Guyanese Diaspora through collaborations with the Guyana Tourism Authority, among others. Shows are already being planned for Easter Monday and August Monday at the MSC ground.
In addition to planning to make these shows the kind of mega activity that will garner much profit, Forde says it is a two-way investment and funds from these shows will be used to invest in community activities and to give back to society. Activities that are expected to benefit include a cricket nursery, ballroom dancing and cycling. Forde believes that activities of this nature can engage youth and increase the number of participants in these activities.