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Wednesday 16 October 2019
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Carifesta ticket woes continue at NAPA

National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa) Port of Spain.
National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa) Port of Spain.

Six hundred and 80 tickets were given out to the National Academy (NAPA) box office for the All Jazzed Up concert on Tuesday.

NAPA officials refused to tell Newsday how many tickets they received for the event.

Over the weekend people came from all over the country to attend Carifesta shows such as Decades of Dance on Saturday and Rhythms of the Caribbean on Sunday at Queen’s Hall and Bitter Cassava at the Little Carib Theatre on Sunday.

Official communication from Carifesta organisers said tickets would be distributed three hours before each event, and only one ticket was allowed per person.

However, many people reported tickets were given out before that three-hour time frame. They were left disappointed and upset when they were told there were none left.

This caused many people to question the integrity of the ticketing system.

John Arnold, project manager of Carifesta, told Newsday on Monday that because of the rain tickets had been distributed early, but because of public outcry, the organisers said they would stick to the three-hour time frame.

At 3.30 pm on Tuesday, Newsday was outside NAPA to observe ticket distribution for the 7 pm show. Hundreds of people were waiting. They were let into the building because they began arriving two hours before the scheduled release of tickets, and rain fell. They were allowed to shelter from the rain, but no tickets were issued until 4 pm. The line continued outside, wrapping around the sides of NAPA.

Newsday spoke to several officials there to find out how many tickets had been sent to the box office, but no one seemed to know. When Newsday spoke to Eleanor Wells, manager of NAPA, she could not say how many tickets had been received. She said there were enough for approximately half to three quarters of the auditorium, but was unable to give a number. She said the other tickets were given to dignitaries by the Carifesta Secretariat.

Wells assured that there would be no empty seats, and if dignitaries did not use their complimentary tickets, the management would allow people waiting outside to enter the building.

"Our aim is to fill the hall. We will fill the hall tonight. That is what we are doing."

To ensure everyone was able to enjoy the show, screens were put up outside for those who did not get tickets.

Newsday spoke to Arnold at the Carifesta Secretariat at the corner of Jerningham Avenue and Queen's Park East after the ticket distribution. Arnold said the secretariat had held a meeting with all the venues, such as NAPA, Queen's Hall and the Little Carib Theatre, to discuss how many tickets would be given out.

He confirmed that the managers should have known how many tickets were sent. At first he told Newsday he did not know how many tickets were given to each venue, but after a 12-minute conversation, he agreed to find out. He made a call, and was first told NAPA had got 400 tickets. He later corrected himself, saying 680 tickets were sent to the venue, which has a seating capacity of approximately 1,180 people.

At 4.27 pm on Tuesday, the tickets were finished. Several people expressed disappointment, such as Leyanna Headly, from Diego Martin.

She said, "I'm disappointed. I was looking forward to coming to this show a couple months now. I'm disappointed I didn't get a ticket.

"I came here since half-past three. There weren't that many people, to be honest. It doesn't seem like it was enough to fill up the hall. I don't think it's that many who got tickets.

"There could be a better way to distribute tickets than to have patrons line up hours before. It's a bit rude."

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