GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Wednesday said that the recent cut in subsidy as announced by government, underscores once again why the foundation continues to seek long-term private partnerships to ensure the sustainability of carnival. The foundation also said that it only learned yesterday through remarks by the Minister of Finance about the subsidy cut.
Today published already on Tuesday that the 2016 budget proposes to decrease the subsidy from 350,000 to 315,000 guilders.
While cuts are being imposed and costs are skyrocketing annually, the foundation has done its utmost to keep prices for its stakeholders and contractors at a relatively stable level, the SCDF said in a press statement, adding that it has thus far avoided implementing any fee increases and has met with its main contractors to restructure annual financial obligations.
“This is a perfect example of why we engage the private sector to ensure that we can pull off the festival. The agreement that we reached with ILTT, for example, has allowed us to keep booth and promoter fees at their current levels. Agreements such as this allow us also to budget and plan accordingly, something we cannot do with government subsidy because of government’s constant liquidity situations,” the foundation said.
It was explained that the subsidy has decreased regularly since 2012, preventing proper and timely execution of anything. To compound matters, the foundation is never informed of cuts in a timely manner, forcing last minute schedule and budget changes. Carnival’s annual budget is approximately 1.2 million guilders. “Government has to do what it must do and we will simply continue to do what we must do.”
The foundation stressed that despite government’s announcement of another cut, it is confident that the strides it is making with the private sector will keep carnival on its growth projection.
“We will apply the same passion in organizing the country’s largest annual event. There is no denying the growth of the festival over the past three years, thanks in large part to creative organizing, financing and marketing. Carnival still contributes positively to this country’s economy, more so than any other annual event. Our responsibility is to stage the event and we will do so even under situations that are not considered ideal. However, as things change around us, so too will the festival, in particular how it is financed.”