Will there be a Tobago Jazz 2020?

R&B star Toni Braxton, left, embraces Tourism Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips at the 2019 Tobago Jazz Experience. PHOTO COURTESY THA -
R&B star Toni Braxton, left, embraces Tourism Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips at the 2019 Tobago Jazz Experience. PHOTO COURTESY THA -


Is there going to be a Tobago Jazz Experience this year?

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Farley Augustine asked this question on Tuesday as he noted that no announcement has yet been made of a date for the event or the artistes who are expected to perform.

Last weekend the Tobago Festivals Commission held auditions for artistes interested in performing for Tobago Jazz Experience 2020.

On its Facebook page several people expressed outrage over the lack of information on the event.

The Tobago Jazz Experience, the island's signature event, is usually held during the last week of April.

Addressing a news conference at the party's Scarborough headquarters, Augustine said there may be further uncertainty surrounding the event given people's fears about contracting the coronavirus and the precarious state of the global economy.

"We have seen the tete-a-tete happening on social media between the chairman of the (Tobago) Festivals Commission and other members of the society," he told reporters.

"But the reality is that we are in the second week of March, and with the state of the global economy and the fear of the coronavirus, people are afraid to travel. And if the likelihood of us increasing international visitors is less, then we should be doing all we can to increase domestic tourism, to improve on the number of people coming from Trinidad and within the region to our shores."

Augustine accused the organisers of the Jazz Experience of constantly being tardy in announcing details about the annual event. The Tobago Festivals Commission, headed by acting chairman Penelope Williams, oversees it.

"We are always coming late with this festival. Look, we are in March: when are people going to book places to stay? When are they going to book their airlines and their boats? When are they going to organise transportation on the ground if they don't know whether or not this festival is keeping?"

The minority assemblyman also wondered what became of the study commissioned on the Jazz Experience in April 2018.

"We spent money and commissioned a study on the jazz festival to look at the impact; to look at the financial gains; to look at how it is impacting the private sector and the tourist industry; to look at what it does in terms of arrivals. And all now we can't even see a page of that study."

Economist Dr Ralph Henry, chairman of Kairi Consultants, was hired to do an assessment of the festival for 2018 and the previous ten years of the event. But to date, the study has not been made public.

A 2017 report on the festival, compiled by Dr Keith Nurse of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, also has been kept secret.

Augustine recalled Culture, Tourism and Transportation Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips had told the assembly the executive council would look at the study and then release it to the public.

"Well, I don't know if it takes years for the executive council to look at a study. I don't see why it is taking them so long to release that report to the public so that we can look at it and be judges of whether or not the festival makes sense and cents.

"So we have to consider all of this as part of a discussion on how we can become more responsible with the resources we have."


"Will there be a Tobago Jazz 2020?"

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