Editorial for September 6: The right decision

Although government has taken some
criticism for cancelling the 2010 Cayman Jazz Fest, we feel it was the right
decision to make, given the current circumstances.

With the government still having
severe budget difficulties, it just made no sense to spend substantial money on
a Jazz Fest this year.

It is unfortunate that Cayman won’t
be able to build on the momentum created by last year’s very successful Jazz
Fest, which drew record attendance numbers. However, just having a Jazz Fest
for the sake of having one, without the right amount of planning and without
the kind of performers necessary to make the event successful, would have been
counterproductive.

In truth, the success of last
year’s event only puts pressure on future events to be as good. Certainly the
new Camana Bay venue and top-notch stage production were part of the reason for
success last year, but it was the big-name draw of Alicia Keys that really moved
the turnstiles.

And therein lies the dilemma; Jazz
Fest was a nice event in years past, but it never had the star power to draw
tourists, one of the reasons the event was originally established.

Although there was some interest
from residents to see past-their-peak performers like Roberta Flack, Bob James,
Anita Baker and Michael Bolton, not many people will now get on airplanes and
travel to expensive destinations to see these artists in concert.

Then of course, there’s the whole
issue of having a ‘Jazz Fest’ with a high percentage of R&B and pop artists
performing, along with local artists who don’t really play jazz. Jazz has a
relatively small niche market in the US, so it was a curious decision to establish
a Jazz Fest as opposed to a Music Fest in the first place.

The government has said it will now
focus on reviewing the Jazz Fest event concept in consultation with the private
sector to determine how it could meet the needs of the tourism industry,
another decision with which we agree. But perhaps they should also conduct a
cost-benefit analysis to determine if any kind of Cayman music festival will
provide good value for taxpayer’s money in the first place.

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