Performers missing from tourism product
A long serving member of the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association is calling out organisations with music and dancing licences for not doing enough to accommodate live performances.
CMEA Immediate Past President Jean-Eric Smith said it is the time for more to be done by venues in what he called one of the best settings for entertainment in the Caribbean – the Cayman Islands.
“A lot of places have the pomp but do not have the infrastructure to back it up in terms of adequate power sources, lighting,” Mr. Smith said.
He said that of all the venues in the Cayman Islands, the Mango Tree is one of the few that has proper accommodations.
“Mango Tree is one of the more accommodating venues in Grand Cayman, as they are prepared and equipped in terms of facilitating live performances when it comes to lighting, sound and stage covering,” he said. “They are actually also one of the oldest venues on the island.”
Mr. Smith said Caribbean-style entertainment has always been an important part of the offerings at Mango Tree.
He added that there had never been an incident of violence there to his knowledge, and explained why he thought it was difficult to get a cross section of people to attend events at the Mango Tree.
“The only reason I can see for what you might deem as a negative connotation toward the venue by some is that it is seen as local,” Mr. Smith said.
He said other establishments that have notable accommodations, relating to what is known as the “Restaurant Trilogy” – a bar, dancing and a restaurant – are Deckers and Macabuca.
Mr. Smith singled out venues such as Tiki Beach and Royal Palms for not having adequate accommodations for live performances and noted that, in his opinion, these places were not properly outfitted with a proper inhouse system for uniformity of sound.
Tiki Beach general manager Otmar Weber explained what the position is at that venue as it relates to live music.
“At the moment, management is not really thinking about live entertainment,” he said. “However, that might change later on. I don’t think the owners are prepared to spend too much on it currently, as it would require advertising, as well as the cost of the band. Also, on weekends we usually have weddings and functions booked. Essentially, we would have to turn away that business for the live entertainment. Friday and Saturday, the time when we do weddings, will take the hit.”
Other venues such as Royal Palms, which was one of the premier locations to enjoy live music locally, have scaled down live offerings. The owners there have gone for a more cosmopolitan theme that caters to a disco tech/DJ ambiance. As a result, the stage that once featured various live music has been removed.
Other issues plaguing live music in the Cayman Islands, which is a major part of the Islands’ tourism product, include the prevalence of complaints regarding the issue of noise.
Robert Loverd, a member of the council of management of the Harbour Heights Condos, is one of the individuals who has made representations to government entities about what he refers to as “chaos on the beach”. In particular, he has been an opponent of music concerts and festivals that take place on the beach and has suggested a decibel reading of 75 for outdoor venues.
However, Mr. Loverd does agree that there is a limited amount of space in Grand Cayman and people will have to compromise to achieve growth. He said he appreciated the need for commerce in a location that is one of the most beautiful and safest in the world, but lamented that youngsters at Harbour Heights are trying to sleep.
Meanwhile, there are few locations for concerts on the beach in Grand Cayman, other than Public Beach.
“Ultimately, these people have chosen to live next to a public beach and they are now expecting the public to curtail their activity because they showed up,” Mr. Smith said. “If there are rules they will be followed but they have to be reasonable and fair to all. There is a balance to strike. Maybe there can be a compromise that stipulates a quota of two events per month or some kind of understanding such as that, as the issue is not cut and dry but slightly more nuanced and requires a creative solution.”