A safe Sumfest

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 03, 2018

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THE state of public emergency currently in place in St James will have no adverse effect on this year's staging of the annual music festival Reggae Sumfest, according to organisers.

The event is slated for July 15 to 22.

Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of DownSound Entertainment and chairman of Summerfest Productions, promoters of the festival, said the operation, which is in place to reduce the rising levels of criminal activity in that western city, will result in tighter productions at all the events to meet the agreed timelines.

“We're starting early this year. The show on Friday night begins at eight o'clock and ends at six. We have some restrictions this year in terms of how late we can be out and I think that all these restrictions are rather positive for us because not only are we more safe than ever before, but we will be able to get to bed before the rooster crows,” Bogdanovich told the media at a rap session held at his DownSound Entertainment corporate office in New Kingston yesterday.

“There's no question that there is more safety in the country now and the fact the people who live there welcome this extension. Everybody is feeling a sense of normalcy in terms of being more comfortable and safe. The pre-events will end by 2 o'clock, all of them. We have very good safety there. We have never had a problem in the Sumfest area and that won't change,” he continued.

The state of public emergency was implemented on January 18 of this year for 14 days. It was extended by Parliament as required by the constitution. A further extension to August 2 was approved by the Senate yesterday.

At the session, Bogdanovich skirted around announcing a definitive price tag to stage the event but noted that this year's show should make money based on the level of sponsorship from local and international partners.

“It's a very expensive festival. We've expanded to eight days from seven; there are now 10 events. It costs money to project the image of what real reggae and dancehall music is all about and I think the production that we do compared to what you see in other countries is second to none. The box office certainly does not pay for the expenditure that we do. We are actually spending more money this year in terms of the production and the line-up than ever before. We have more meaningful sponsors than ever before. To do the kind of production that we do to make the world understand how dynamic reggae and dancehall music is, it takes a lot of production and we need international sponsors to support us and we're on the road to doing this. I believe this year we'll make money,” he said.

First held in 1993, Reggae Sumfest has featured dancehall's elite such as Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Lady Saw and Capleton. International acts, including TI, Common, Usher, Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, R Kelly, Ne-Yo, Mary J Blige, and Alicia Keys have also performed on it.

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