On behalf of all the angry people that clamoured for this to be exposed, let me lay it out at the outset: The Ministry of Culture needs properly to account for the distribution of tickets for the main stage events of Carifesta, which was ill-considered, unfair and discriminatory.
That each patron should line up at a specified time and each receive one ticket is fair. The flaw was that one was required to line up three hours before the event on the same day as the event.
That same day requirement was ill-considered. It obliged patrons—how ever far away resident—to come for the event not knowing whether they would ‘get through’. Many wasted funds, possibly making special domestic arrangements in vain.
The alternative way is to set the day for lining up well in advance of the event. Before the era of online sales, I joined a night-long queue in cold London to seek a ticket for the Royal Opera House for an event at a future date; and it rained!
Next, I challenge the Ministry to tell us how many tickets it released for the general public in relation to the number of seats available at each venue, which I understand are: NAPA 1,495, Queen’s Hall with the orchestra pit in use 700, without the pit 800, Little Carib 250.
Curious therefore that Mr John Arnold, Carifesta Project Manager, should say, according to a Newsday report in relation to Jazzed Up, advertised to be at NAPA, that there are ‘5,000 jazz fans and only 500 tickets’. Where were the other 900 odd other tickets?
Arnold made statements during the course of last week, after there had been angry scenes at Queen’s Hall and Little Carib on the preceding weekend among patrons trying to get tickets for Dance for The Ages and Bitter Cassava.
At Queen’s Hall, those who arrived at 3pm in reliance on the official statement that tickets would be distributed three hours before, soon discovered that tickets were sharing from 1pm—two hours before the time set by the official statement.
Ninety chits were given out some time after that for additional tickets said to be coming. A pardner laughingly called the chits IOU’s and also looked to see whether the chits might be in Spanish, left over from the Venezuelan registration exercise.
Many patrons were bowled out before they put their bat down at the ticket crease—unfairly so because they timed their arrival by reference to an official statement. Arnold gave us the afterthought that the box office gave the tickets out before the appointed time because of rain.
As is apparent, we were misled, not only about time. Talk was that a significant number had been long ago ‘given out to the Ministries’. Now we have confirmation that tickets were given out to ‘dignitaries’.
Mr Arnold says that is the usual practice and ‘normal’. But should it be so?
Tell us specifically, without further concealment, how many tickets were commandeered for this purpose? From the Arnold math, and other information, it looks like half or more of what should have been available at each venue were kept aside. Also, many dignitaries did not show up and reports of their empty seats threw salt in the wounds of those disappointed.
In my view it is plainly discriminatory, in a festival for the people, to give these hidden dignitary preferences for main stage events. The so-called dignitaries and their Ministerial and bureaucratic benefactors comprise another one per cent.
Disturbingly, a secondary distribution channel for these complementaries (comps) developed on Facebook. While in the Queen’s Hall line, I was told by telephone of two tickets for that evening that someone had to give away; but my Plan B was to go instead to the vibrant Carifesta Village and the Film Festival, which I did.
Subsequently, comps were on offer from quite ordinary sources for other stage events but I returned successfully to the Film Festival.
That’s another story of misleading information that certain films were sold out when there were many empty seats, possibly the result of infection by using venues controlled by the other one per cent.