Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - The St. James Community Improvement Committee (St. James CIC) regretfully announces that after an uninterrupted run of twelve years, from 2001 to 2012, the 2013 edition of WeBeat - St. James Live, originally scheduled to run from June 7th through 15th 2013, has been cancelled.
The Committee has been forced into making this decision as a result of the lack of financial support by both levels of government, central and municipal, and the private sector, including those from the St. James area, most of who benefitted directly from these events.
At the municipal level, the St. James CIC in 2012 was promised a ‘handsome cheque’ which never materialised. At the central government level, the funding received from the Ministry of Arts and Mulitculturalism, although appreciated, was far less than what was promised in the last two years. This resulted in a considerable shortfall and consequently our inability to meet all our payments to the performing artistes.
This problem is not of recent vintage but has grown more debilitating within recent times. In fact, as indicated above, debts are still outstanding for the 2012 edition of the festival. Thus the organisers felt that they could not, in good conscience, ask the many artistes who have historically subsidised WeBeat by agreeing to perform at peppercorn prices, to now perform for even less.
Added to that, the lack of infrastructure (cover, toilets, bleachers, chairs, tents, lighting, sound, dressing rooms, etc.) in the St. James Park and Amphitheatre makes it a highly expensive proposition to continuously transform this barren facility into a space fit to host an event of this calibre at which local and foreign tourists are expected to attend.
The changing circumstances have seen a tardiness in terms of response for the commitment of funds and at times, disbursement of less than half of what was promised. This would have necessitated the planning committee to dip their hands in their pockets, which they have done before and which they have not recovered, to assist in meeting the shortfall.
To the uninitiated: WeBeat was inspired by the then-Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (TIDCO) who was promoting the concept of a Renaissance District in St. James and who saw in it, opportunities for the tourism thrust that they were trying to foster.
Primary among the event’s focus was the promotion of the multi-cultural aspects of the country. These included Pan; Tassa; African Drumming; Dance, including Indian, African and Chinese Dance and of course, Vintage Calypso. It also included the recognising of Honourees - persons who contributed to the development of St. James and by extension the wider Community, in the areas of Education, Business, Sports, Culture and Community Service. Personages such as Anthony Williams - Pan, the late Mohammed “Hamdo” Emamali - Hosay, Lincoln Phillips - Football, Emrold Philip (Brother Valentino) and Denyse Plummer – Calypso, Roy (Fearless Freddie) Alexander and Cecil Crosby – Business, Julia Edwards – Dance, Velma Redhead – Education and Pelham Goddard - Music among others.
The Amateur Night would have been the place where many of our well known artistes who now grace stages both nationally and internationally would have received their start; The Health Day would have seen people from various parts East and West of the country, accessing the several aspects of Health diagnoses on offer. These would include hearing, sight, blood pressure and diabetes testing as well as hand-outs and lectures on lifestyle diseases. They would also, on occasion, be the recipients of free glasses frames.
Pan on the Road, when steel bands from the North Western Region, and invited bands from Tobago, East and South Trinidad parade along the streets of St. James, bring out thousands of spectators. This street event generates substantial revenue for the various bars that operate along the route but does not benefit St. James CIC financially. Ironically, this is where our largest expense is created.
We wish to thank our sponsors who have faithfully supported us, some of whom have been with us from the beginning. This includes, Carib Brewery, Rent-a-Amp, RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad & Tobago), Media 21, Coca Cola and of course the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Western Division.
We also wish to express our sincere apologies to the many foreign visitors who have faithfully returned home for this event and who may have already booked their flights and/or secured rooms at our various hotels. We wish to assure you that we did not take this decision lightly but, without funds, we simply could not go ahead and stage this event. We assure you that we will make every effort to continue this event in 2014 and beyond.
We sincerely regret that for the first time in thirteen years, on the carded nights of WeBeat - St. James Live, the St. James Park and Amphitheatre will fall silent.
UPDATE: WeBeat Series back on
From the News Desk of the St. James Community Improvement Committee
Earl Crosby -President
1 (868) 680-7383