Sunsplash to stay virtual for 2021

Sunsplash to stay virtual for 2021

Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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Following last weekend's staging of Reggae Sunsplash, the organisers have decided to maintain the virtual format for the 2021 staging of the event.

Executive producer of the festival, Tyrone Wilson confirmed that next year's festival will remain virtual given the uncertainties surrounding the current global health crisis caused by the novel strain of the coronavirus.

“We are definitely going virtual once again come next year. There is so much more we can do with a virtual presentation; the possibilities are really endless. And so much more people we can reach; all we have to do is plan. This year, we did not have the time to do a lot of forward planning as we were waiting to see what was in store with the pandemic. We don't want to be in that situation next year where we are waiting to see what is going to happen… we don't want to wait, so we have taken the decision to keep it virtual, but add lots more to make it a really special kind of event,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“So we are starting the plans for next year from this year… I know there's just a month to go in 2020, but that's how serious we are. The planning for 2021 begins right now. We want to give a lot more opportunities to sponsors and build out on the opportunities. This year, we had about 10 viewing parties across the island, in bars, restaurants, hotels, and private homes. We want to take time to develop that, in case we are in the same situation in terms of the pandemic, this time next year. When we look at the data we see where the viewership from the US was a lot more than from Jamaica so it is clear that persons from overseas still want that musical experience,” Wilson continued.

Speaking of the analysis of the data, Wilson noted that he was pleased with the numbers that tuned in for the live feed on Friday and Saturday nights, noting that the subsequent figures have concurred with his initial projections.

“I told my sponsors that we would get 100,000 views throughout the weekend. The figures I have show me that we are right there. This is not only for the live show but cumulatively during the live feed and subsequent viewing of the videos. Night two alone has been nearly 70,000. The individual videos of the performances are also doing well… from night one, Capleton is 44,000, Tanya Stephens is 26,000; Richie Spice is at 28,000 and Ras I -- who opened the show -- at 22,000. So I'm pleased.”

Wilson and his team are claiming success despite the technical glitches which threatened the opening night, which he said were on their part and were smoothed out by the second night of performances. He attributed the success of the festival which was returning to the entertainment calendar after 14 years to the versatility of the brand; the commitment and professionalism of the artistes chosen; and his hard-working team.

“I am so proud of the artistes who I have to say gave 200 per cent. The turned up for rehearsals and then on their respective nights delivered a live performance and engaged their perceived audience with professionalism. Then there is the team. It was a small, tight group. This was done as we had to ensure the financial success of the initial staging. My producers Debbie [Bissoon] and Randy [Mattis] had to do some heavy lifting to pull this off. I pleased with Kaboom Nation, which handles artiste booking and Clearsound Production which handled the technical side of things,” said Wilson.

Nine Jamaican acts took to the Reggae Sunsplash Stage over the two nights: Richie Spice, Ras I, Tanya Stephens, Capleton, Jesse Royal, Romain Virgo, Masicka, Agent Sasco and Dexta Daps.

Wilson is already aware that there might be some who will not be fond of the virtual presentation being planned for next year, but he reiterated that the uncertainty of the pandemic makes it more prudent to plan in advance.

“Everybody is expecting things to free up come next year; the thing is that we have to recover fully from this thing before we can even start thinking of a return to the way things used to be. So the entertainment industry can't deep-dive back into live performances and mass gatherings, even if there is a vaccine. So we are not in a rush. We want to ensure that when we come back in the physical, live mode we are good to go,” Wilson shared.

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