Fate of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival 2018 still up in the air
CEO and Managing Commissioner of the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) Roscoe Dames continues to defend Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival as a cultural staple on The Bahamas’ calendar, but admitted yesterday that he could not say if there will be a carnival in 2018, noting he was not “the one to answer that”.
Dames was a guest on Guardian Radio talk show “The Revolution” with host Juan McCartney, and insisted that Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival still has the potential to drive visitors to the shores of The Bahamas and create economic stimuli that would have a trickle down effect throughout the economy.
Dames said The Bahamas is a recognizable brand and its carnival is becoming a part of that brand. He added that festivals like Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival can be marketed and grown into successful annual events.
The new Free National Movement government has vowed to not burden the public with the costs of carnival next year, if it is allowed to happen. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said during his campaign that he doesn’t believe the festival should be done away with, but privatized.
Dames admitted that there isn’t an instant fix to developing the country’s carnival, but he lauded the fact that the BNFC was able to reduce the costs associated with carnival over the past three years.
The BNFC was under intense pressure over that three-year period to reduce its budget after overspending two years in a row, while taxpayers could see no value for money in the investment into the event.
“How do we make what we have better and continue to reduce the costs to taxpayers? It would be difficult for it to be zero dollars,” said Dames.
However, he insisted that the event will eventually have a trickle down effect that “is going to benefit your citizenry”.
When the former government decided to postpone the carnival this year and push the date back by two weeks, the international outcry came fast and strong, with people who had already booked airline and cruise tickets railing against the decision. It was only then that the country truly recognized just how many visitors the event had begun to attract.
Dames added that another benefit of the carnival has been the development of several Bahamian artists who “were completely undiscovered” and are now being “recognized and paid for their craft”.