BVI News

VG Easter Fest to be scaled down again, festival committee $300K in debt

Festival & Fairs Committee Chairman, Carnel Clyne.

The Virgin Gorda Easter Festival will experience another scale-down this year.

This according to Minister of Culture Dr Natalio Wheatley who said the festival and its government organisers, the Virgin Islands Festival & Fairs Committee, is heavily in debt.

“Before we had even started, before we had even spent one red cent, we are already in the hole by around approximately $300,000, and that’s based on unbudgeted expenses from the previous administration,” Dr Wheatley said.

“Scale backs will happen because we have a limited amount of money and we cannot repeat the current situation where we have hundreds of thousands of dollars of unbudgeted expenditure moving forward.”

This $300,000 in arrears include monies owed to vendors who Dr Wheatley said will be paid.

“I am going to make it a priority that vendors are paid going forward in a timely fashion and all previous bills we’ll satisfy as quickly as possible and I should say right here all legitimate expenses,” he said.

Budget for ALL 2019 festivals is $700,000

The budget for all festivals in this calendar year is a little more than $700,000 and the Culture Minister said government will have to decide whether increase the overall festival budget.

“This budget is $710,000 and we know that cannot do what we have been doing. So every year we’re getting overruns. So, that’s why I say we have to make a decision as to whether we’re going to scale the festivals to 710,000 or whether we’re going to allocate more money and that’s a conversation we have to have not just as a government but as a people,” he said.

Last year’s festival also encountered a few scale backs due to the impact of natural disasters in 2017. The festival saw a reduced budget of $100,000.

The exact budget for the Virgin Gorda Easter Fest was not given.

Meanwhile, newly-elected Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festivals & Fairs Committee, Carnel Clyne, said some of the acts expected to perform at this year’s Easter Fest include Jamaican dancehall artiste Dexter Daps, as well as the 2019 International Power Soca Monarch, Mr Killa from Grenada.

This year’s festival will be honouring Mr Roy O’Neal. The event kicks off at 10 am on April 13 with the Culture Food Fair at the Little Dix Grounds. It then continues the following week on the 20th, the 21st, and the 22nd.


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  1. makes good sense says:

    Now we see some good work financially.

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  2. Quiet Warrior says:

    It is not governance to spend you don’t have (not authorized and appropriated by HOA) and not spending money for its intended purpose. Government, statutory bodies, departments, committee…….etc must operate within allocated budget. Entities deliberately exceeding their allocated budgets must stop. If entities have a genuine need to exceed allocate budgets, they should go back to the HOA. Further, a serious discussion on public funding of Festivals is urgently needed. Dr. Hon N. Wheatley, let’s get this show started.

  3. Been there says:

    I have been I festival for nearly 30 years. To have 300k in debt is nothing if you understand the problem with festival. No government ever gives festival the amount it costs to put it on. Neither VIP or NDP. It was only the NDP since 2011 started to do actual reports and have them laid in the House as required and this facts not idle talk. Festival overall cost under the NDP went down significantly from the close to 3M that it was costing when the VIP was in power. So don’t make politics out of 300k. If you understand the issue with festival that figure isn’t bad. Hopefully we will see what it costs the new vip to run festival.

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  4. :) says:

    NDP the gift that keeps on giving.

  5. All that glitters is not Gold. says:

    In a lot of ways, government and its statutary bodies and committees have been spending without consideration of staying within budget. In addition to Festival over committing itself, In my opinion, if managed and marketed more aggressively and professionally, the festival/scan/should generate more income. Example The August Monday parade if started late (way to late) for as long as anyone can remember. When that happens, moneys that was intended to be spent here find itself back to USVI and elsewhere. The village remains empty until late evening.
    Festival being the cultural event it is, the Fish Fry fund raisers that used to be put on by the committees (scheduled fry fish and Johnny Cake events) should be revived; thereby generating additional moneys to subsidize government’s allotment. Businesses that benefit more directly from the festival events (guest houses, villas and hotels, car rentals and cellular companies), if approached in a more timely manner may be open to making more significant contributions.

    Please note I kept Politics out of my comment.

  6. What Time Is It? says:

    @ 🙂 NDP, the can also be referred as the party that took a lot to. Less we forget

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  7. Hit the nail on the head says:

    There is enough blame to go around for the over expenditure each year, however, we are still not focusing on what is the problem.

    The Problem: The reason for the celebrations are no longer satisfying the younger BVIslanders and those who participate; hence, the reason to bring in entertainment that are in no shape or form connected to the celebrations. If the school system do not engage in activities that will foster the acceptance of what the celebrations should be involved in, then the activities of the 2 week long festival would be that of entertainment and other activities that are not related. We used to have certain activities of calypso with social commentary for adults, jr calypso, of course the rise and shine, boat races, donkey and horse races, cooking competition, fish fries leading up to the festival period, and others. Most of those activities are no longer being done as our children have been Americanized. There is a renewed interest in heritage themed attractions, may be we should start there in order to influence the festival activities and hopefully make a comeback to the celebrations. Side note: There brining in of the international or regional artistes should not be stopped, but not so many should be used as that seems to be the highlight of the celebrations.

  8. Cherry says:

    If the Festival Committees collect a certain amount of money each night of the village, from pre-events, different competition & so forth. Where is that money? Shouldn’t that assist in off setting the cost plus the funds government allocate to the festival. There should be some kind of funds floating around – left over. Where is the report on the Festival Committees spending and collection of funds from all of the events? Money was output to get money in return and return that will be more than you output. Then we need to scale back on the regional artists & put more of our local artists. If we go eith the national artists, we need to sign a three year contract at a rate amicable to both parties. This challenge/issue needs correcting, hopefully within a year.

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