Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festivals & Fairs Committee, Marvin Blyden.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee, Marvin Blyden has given a bold commitment to produce a financial report of this year's festival one month after the festivities.
"Mr. Minister [of Education & Culture], I know what you expect out of us when it comes to finance. As Showtime Band has said...I want you and you and you to hold me accountable for a financial statement at the end of September," Blyden stated.
Acting Director of Culture, Brenda Lettsome-Tye revealed that this year, Government is providing the VI Festivals and Fairs Committee with $560,400 to cover all festivals and fairs in the Territory, including Virgin Gorda.
The Acting Director also revealed that Virgin Gorda received an additional $40,000, which means that they received a total of $100,000 to host their Easter Festival.
However, Lettsome-Tye explained that the East End/Long Look and Carrot Bay sub-committees will receive their customary $60,000 this year.
"This committee, the Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee took it upon ourselves to invest an extra 4$0,000 into Virgin Gorda Festival because we understand they were starting up on their own. We felt that this year since we were starting a little late, we assisted by governing them [VG] more funds. The funding remains the same for East End/Long Look and Carrot Bay," Lettsome-Tye stated.
Lettsome-Tye said that she could not give an estimated cost for this year's festival, pointing out that they are still receiving monies through sponsorship. However, she said that the committee understands the budgetary constraints that Government is undergoing.
"This year throughout Government, the budget has been cut and it has been cut...We are basically trying to do what the old people say. We are trying to cut our suit to suit our cloth and we are trying to do our very best to stay within the budgetary constraints which we have been given," Lettsome-Tye stated.
She stated that one of the mandates this year is to determine the true cost of festival so that the committee can in turn advise the Minister of Education and Culture and Government about an accurate ballpark figure of what festival really costs.
Blyden told reporters that the committee is still trying to recover the pride and integrity which was lost over the years. He explained that years ago, persons would readily assist and render their service to festival, but today, persons only offer assistance based on who calls them. Blyden said that this must change and the committee is already noticing that change.
"We have been working very close with the sub-committee chairs in cutting costs and finding creative ways to fundraise. We have started fundraising with our boat ride on June 3. I must admit it was a success. We will continue to do so as we lead up to the opening of festival," Blyden stated.
Blyden said that since being appointed Chair, the VI Festivals and Fairs has been meeting regularly to prepare for the 58th Annual VI Festival; however, he said that the current committee since taking over has paid over $500,000 in bills from previous festivals.
Blyden said that bills from previous festivals are still coming in, but the committee has placed a cut off point for the submission of such bills and that period has passed.