Editorial for August 5: Weighing the benefits of Jazz Fest

As of now, it is uncertain if the
Cayman Jazz Fest will take place this year.

Given the state of economic affairs
of the country, it’s understandable that the government would want to weigh the
benefits and costs of holding the Jazz Fest right now.

There are two new high schools, a
new government office accommodation building and several other capital projects
under way that need funding and a budget deficit to address, so there are many
other possible uses for government funding.

Last year, the cost of staging the
event to government was $1.15 million, including $409,000 for overseas artists.
It is unknown what, if anything, the government received in terms of revenues,
although this information has been requested via a Freedom of Information
request.

It could be that the Cayman Jazz
Fest gets postponed this year just like the Miss Cayman Pageant and various
other events.  But unlike those other
events, the Jazz Fest was designed to bring money-spending tourists to the
Cayman Islands, so any money spent by the government could be offset by the
economic impact on Grand Cayman as a whole.

The problem is, like so many other
things here, we really don’t know what impact the Jazz Fest has ever had on the
economy.  Certainly, last year’s attendance,
especially the night Alicia Keys performed, was tremendous.  But what we’ve never been told is how many
tourists attended and how many of those tourists came to the Cayman Islands
because of Jazz Fest as opposed to attending after they found out about it once
they were already here.

It is exactly those kinds of things
that need to be known to properly weigh the benefits of the Jazz Fest against
the costs. Only then can government really make an informed decision as to
whether it is worth staging the event during an economic downturn or whether it
would be wiser to postpone it for better times.

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