“Free Ticket Syndrome” negatively affecting Spicemas Income

by Linda Straker

Kirk Seetahal, Chief Executive Officer of the Spicemas Corporation said on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, that the tradition of providing complimentary tickets to carnival stakeholders has reached the point where it’s negatively affecting the financial income of the Corporation.

“You may attend a show and see 8,000 people, see a lot of people, but what you don’t know is that more than half of these people did not pay for their tickets, but received a complimentary. This is a situation I met at Spicemas and it’s one that has to be dealt with. Now in the end, what happens is Spicemas cannot pay its debt and some of the people who are receiving all these complimentary tickets are the same ones who are talking about the Spicemas’ inability to meet its expenditure,” said Seetahal, who accompanied Culture Minister Brenda Hood at that a Post-Cabinet briefing.

“How can you stop giving someone a free ticket who has been getting it forever, and say sorry, you cannot get one,” he said while explaining that the culture of receiving a free ticket is so ingrained with some, that they see it as a right, whether or not they are active members in an association or institutions who are contributing to the carnival product.

“And then we have some companies who might give about EC$3,000 and want about EC$5,000 in complimentary tickets when we check up the amount we have to give them back as one of our sponsorship partners,” he said.

Seetahal said that he accepts the fact that the Corporation has to build relationships with its sponsors, and in the end it must be a comfortable situation for all, but the reality is thousands of free tickets go out every year and at the same time thousands of dollars are needed to meet the expenditures.

“And it’s for that reason we are adjusting the allocation for free tickets, I know some people are not pleased, some are not happy but we all must face the reality and strike the balance; some people will have to purchase tickets,” he said, while disclosing that the Corporation needs a minimum of EC$3 million to run carnival as a sustainable venture.

Already for 2016 it’s EC$500,000 short on sponsorship when compared to 2015. “We want people to support us by purchasing the tickets so we can meet our expenditure,” he said.

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