Monday, February 21, 2011
I guess it’s true: All good things must eventually come to an end. Such is the fate of the Bermuda Music Festival, an annual three-day concert that featured artists such as Alicia Keys, Beyonce Knowles, Lionel Ritchie and more recently, Ziggy Marley and Wyclef Jean. The cut was one of several made on Friday, which helped reduce Bermuda’s Department of Tourism budget by $7.9 million or 21 percent. Said Tourism Minister Patrice Minors about the cut, “[the festival] was not attracting enough visitors to our shores to justify the spending,” a direct contrast to former Premier and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown who often said the festival provided “excellent value for the exposure.” Truth is, over the past three years the government has spent $5.7 million on the event while recouping approximately $2.5 million on ticket sales, according to the Royal Gazette. And while that doesn’t sound like a smart investment, the music festival—or at least some form of it—is definitely going to be missed. It certainly will be by me. What ever happened to having a concert for the people? You know, us folks who live on the island and enjoy hearing live music? I’m not saying $3 million needs to be spent on a blockbuster performer, but I do think the lack of a local music festival will be a glaring omission on the cultural calendar. So in the spirit of problem-solving here’s what I propose: A one-day gathering featuring local acts throughout the day with Bermudian reggae singer Mishka as the headliner. It’d be a fraction of the cost of prior festivals since local reinsurance companies would want to sponsor such a community-building event (hey decision-makers, you did consider getting corporate sponsorship, didn’t you?) plus it’ll celebrate everything that’s great about Bermuda, that is, its people. Have it on the beach like last year’s festival, where local artists can sell their crafts and island cooks can whip up popular dishes (or even better, compete against each other in a fish chowder cook off). Gosling’s could sponsor a rum swizzle competition where island bartenders could make their version of the popular drink to be crowned Sizzle King. Then everyone could gather happily around the waterside stage to watch Mishka—otherwise known as Bermuda’s latest and greatest contribution to the world of music—perform his blend of conscious reggae. I’ve even got a name for it: The Best of Bermuda Fest. Sound good? I thought so. Now, let’s make it happen Bermuda. Do it for the children. Heck, do it for me.