Complimentary woes

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2014    

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YET another show promoter is claiming massive losses due to complimentary tickets.

The latest complainant is Junior Taylor, associate producer for the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival which kicks off Thursday at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium. The event concludes Saturday.

Speaking at the Jamaica Observer's weekly Monday Exchange at its Beechwood Avenue office, Taylor informed journalists that his organisation gives away 2,500 tickets per night over the three-day festival.

These tickets are offered to sponsors, staff, artistes, and associates, a practice he says that has to be curtailed in order to maintain the festival's viability.

According to Taylor, the number of complimentary tickets gives a false impression of profit margin when the average fan looks at the size of the audience.

"The 'guess-timation' of crowds year in, year out causes a really big misconception of reality. In a situation, where you might need 4,000 people in the venue to break even, you see 6,000, but 3,000 are free," he said.

This year, organisers are looking for an audience of 10-15,000 persons over the three nights. But Taylor noted that this is the figure they would ideally want for each night.

A month ago, Shaggy noted that his biennial fund-raiser -- Shaggy & Friends -- for the Bustamante Hospital for Children suffers from the doling out of complimentary tickets. He noted that the 2012 event accrued a loss of $15 million as a result of complimentary tickets. He vowed to cut this policy for the recent January 4 show at Jamaica House.

"Shaggy made a very good point, and I applaud him. I wish he had said it two months before so I could have followed suit. But we are following suit in the future. We have to understand that it is a business... whilst his [Shaggy] was to raise money for charity, ours is truly a business that needs to manage what we give away, because a lot of times what we give away is to people who can pay," Taylor said.





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