Firstly let me introduce myself. My name is Cherokee, I work with a few Grenadian Soca artists. I have been promoting Grenada music and Culture for over 6 years. I have a Record label that specialises in distributing music. Over the years the artists I work with have won MTV awards, IRAWMA’s and even received music nominations is Hollywood. The Grenada Tourist board also awarded me with an award for my contribution to Grenada Music and Culture in London.
I have written this letter to show my support to White in the Moonlight. I do not know the promoters, I am not a promoter in Grenada but I know the impact that will happen if this show doesn’t go ahead. Just to note I have been updated with all the SMC’s presentations and laws and all this drama in regards to SMC’s (formally know as GCC) not giving ‘permission’ to have this major event for Grenada’s Carnival known as Spicemas for 2012.
When the GCC stated that they were doing changes to protect Grenada Spicemas, many persons were delighted, as GCC knows 2011 was one of the worst Carnival’s ever. With the new times of Ten to Ten that had to be changed to Ten to Sunrise. To a horrendous Soca Monarch show in 2011, which falsely dubbed Iwer George ‘The Jab Jab King of the world’?? Thank god for the cruises, Pree day, Jouvert, parish events, Jab Fest and WITML as those events which are part of Grenada Carnival. As the people all over the world would agree these events are all part of the Spicemas tradition. So when SMC stated that there were setting up a new organisation people locally and Internationally where hoping and praying for some positive changes to the Carnival product.
A positive change to myself just to be clear, would be proper management of events SMC run, proper advertising and marketing of Carnival externally and internally of Grenada. Introduction of ‘Spicemas’ to new markets, on time payment to the stakeholders of ‘Spicemas.’ Clearer detail of profit and losses, clear guidelines of persons with criminal records banned from being back stage of Soca monarch etc. Those I would say with many more suggestions would be what I call positive changes to improve the Carnival product.
The SMC presentation confirmed that they were implementing changes and that they are -$350,000ec in debt (page 15 on the presentation slide to promoters) SMC also stated that they receive $700,000ec from the government but they are still in debt. As many in Grenada know many involved in Grenada Spicemas 2011 are still owed money.
I was horrified when I was informed that WITML wasn’t given permission to have their show for Spicemas 2012. When the news broke many people from overseas who had attended carnival 2011 stated that they were not going to visit Grenada as this show is a integral part of the Carnival product. I contacted Colin Dowe as I was in Grenada at the time; his cell phone was busy as this news had just been released. So I sent him an email stated how detrimental not having WITML would be.
As I stated at the start of this letter, In London I have promoted Grenada music and culture on the radio for over 6 years. On my my space page which was the face-book in those times, I would put up pictures of WITML. From what I presented on the radio, to a show I promoted in London with Grenadian artists in 2007. The photos I put up on my myspace page. All of these things introduced a new type of traveller who has not traveled to Grenada before. As far as they were concerned they were visiting Grenada to experience mass. This is business terms is known as adding value. Many within the Grenadian diaspora also promote Grenada and its carnival overseas.
With these new travellers I discovered that there are two different types of travellers that visited. One set would travel from London to Barbados or Antigua then head to Grenada on carnival Wednesday or Thursday. The second type of visitor is either a Grenadian who hasn’t been to Grenada for carnival or a non-Grenadian’s from Europe who again has not visited Grenada and wants to experience the ‘real mass’. Every year these visitors buy tickets for Junior George’s Celebrity cruise and Summer -crew’s Bikini Cruise in advance. They book hotels or apartments, and rent vehicles. They would touch down to Grenada ‘ready for mass’. From their experience on the other Islands they would state to me that some of the events on the other Island’s do not provide as much fun as the events in Grenada. In Barbados there are a few events were people stand up, if you want to wine to the music people look at you funny. Every year at WITML we have a spot right by the stage where all the crew from England and our friends from Grenada would meet up. These visitors love WITML as there is a theme ‘all dress in white’ it always rains, they can see a range of local artists and you can just free up yourself and have fun. This is what keeps these visitors returning to the Island every year, they also bring new visitors weather it is their friends and family each year. WITML also shows that Grenada is on par or even ahead of the other Island’s in the Caribbean, as many Islands have a Glow event but none have a WITML.
I have 2 degrees; one in Retail management and the 2nd Degree is a BA (Hons) in Business. I state this as I was taught in University that when a company or organisation especially a cultural governing body is removing a major part of any of it existing contributing business. You must show some supporting business evidence such as a S.W.OT analysis. You must also have internal and external evidence to show that WITML (in this case) doesn’t add value to the country and the carnival product. And/or has no MAJOR part in Grenada’s carnival for it to be deem ‘not suitable or not to be given permission’ to go ahead for 2012 or any years in the future. I like many members of the public view SMC as a company or oganisation as it states it has the power and governs all aspects of carnival. Or does it?
In the manifesto well its presentation and all media information that it puts out to the public. SMC states it governs Steel-pan, Calypso and Mas. It doesn’t mention in anyway shape or form: SOCA or anything in relation to Soca except its Soca Monarch shows and its own Soca events. So going by the information and I think SMC confirmed this on one of the news broadcasts from Grenada. It has no powers over Soca. If this is true then SMC do not have the rights to dictate or over rule any event that has SOCA or plays Soca music or support SOCA during carnival as it contains Soca, which isn’t listed in their manifesto.
I would also like to add that the SMC when they do introduce changes they haven’t used any type of known business model for these strategies when making decisions. The reason I say that is, I have not seen any country in the Caribbean that have attempted to dictate or overrule events that adds value and is a major contributor to its Country especially its carnival product. I myself do support Soca across the Islands and none of the other Islands have been in a situation like this before.
I do applauded the additions that SMC have introduced, Carnival City, the theme for Spicemas 2012 and other cultural projects they are doing though out Grenada. I however do not support their decision in regards to WITML.
Now on Monday 18th June it has come to the world’s attention that a Hotel is bringing in Kes the Band on the same night in question. This new information now it casts doubt to many minds that maybe this is the reason SMC may not of wanted WITML to go ahead? I believe that Kes the band performing at the hotel on that night will not cause much impact on WITML. As WITML caters to a different audience compared to who the hotel’s target audience is. The main argument is why treat one promoter different to the other? Why all of these conflicting actions?
SMC could go as far hiring the Multi million pound owners of the 3D hollogram of the late great Tupac to perform at Panorama. That again wouldn’t stop what Local’s and visitors from overseas travel to Grenada carnival for. As an annual tradition and the natural foot flow in Grenada for years is simply; when panorama is over, everyone who wants to heads up to the country for WITML. They attend in their white clothing, some with water boots, rain coats, tarpaulin, with friends, loved ones and family members to watch the show that is provided. And to play a mass as it is Grenada carnival, it’s a tradition!!!
I will also mention the economical impact locally that WITML creates. I do not know the Square Footage or the Acreage of the entire site. If I was given these details I could calculate how much money that event makes per hour in different areas. But as everyone knows by looking with their own eyes. As you reach the top road that leads you to Moonlight City, you are met by different Vendors. These are local vendors who sell local food, drinks , mints etc for the patrons who attend WITML. There are local Police, SSU and Security that also get paid for their work at this event. There are local DJ’s, Local Soca artists, local bands, media personnel and all other types of back stage persons that get paid for their work at this event. These people are also relying on this work each year. So anyone with a bit of common sense would know that WITML brings employment locally. And as there are some International artists on stage there is a small amount of money that goes to the artists from overseas.
I can go on and on but I think those reading this get the picture.
For many people worldwide that visits Grenada and those locally knows that show is what makes Grenada Carnival. It is the meat in the pie as we say in England. If this show doesn’t go ahead it will leave Grenada carnival vulnerable to the rest of the Caribbean’s Carnival. Do not think that a next Island may not start to extend their Island’s timetable as Grenada is lacking a major event. Every organization, government or group worldwide supports ventures that are supportive to their local economy and brings in visitors from overseas. The number of people the venue holds alone is proof.
I write this to show support and to show an aspect of WITML that may not have been voiced before.
I do not write this on behalf of any person’s I work alongside. I do not want a Job with SMC. (I know Grenada I got to put my exclusion clauses in now lol). I do not write this as a malicious attack on SMC. I also do not have any affiliations with the promoters of WITML.
I myself have been in contact with Colin Dowe though out the years in regards to events that the Police or some people have tried to ban during carnival season. And it has always been a positive out come. Again I have no affiliation to these events. I did this to demonstrate the need for Grenada to continue what it has been accustom to. Especially when visitors are concerned.
I hope that SMC and the promoters of WITML can reach an amicable decision. Grenada is suffering; with negative headlines it has experienced this year across the International media. Things are financially harder for the people of Grenada now then before.
It doesn’t make sense trying to make everything that is fun harder for the people when there is no ethical reason behind it.
God bless the people of Grenada who have made their voices heard about this subject on radio, TV, on their face-books and other forums.
Thank you for reading.
God bless Grenada.
Amanda Smith aka Cherokee
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