Arnold: Late Tobago Jazz launch won’t affect support

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tobago Festivals CEO John Arnold –

Tobago Festivals Commission CEO John Arnold is unfazed by the late launch of the Tobago Jazz Experience 2023.

Speaking with the media after the launch at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex on Tuesday, Arnold said as an event personnel, there are two things that could happen.

“Because the excitement is there, it would not affect it to the extent that we may think it would. Also, people travel in short times now and so I feel that we would have a very good turnout, especially for the Sunday (international night).”

Tobago Jazz will be held from April 20-23 featuring a gospel concert, reggae show and international night.

The cast of artistes include R&B legends Boyz II Men, Grammy-winning reggae sensation Koffee, Everton Blender, Richie Spice, Positive, Samuel Medas, Jonathon Nelson, Tobago singer Sharon Phillips, jazz artiste Vaughnette Bigford, jazz guitarist Theron Shaw and a host of others. Arnold said more artistes are being considered.

“There are some others that are being sent to us that we are going to evaluate from that list. We certainly can’t take all. We would also include the (medium band) pan winners, Katzenjammers, and also we’ll be talking to the Pantastic three: Duvone Stewart, Ojay (Richards) and Kersh (Ramsey) to do a threesome in the international night.”

With the return of the festival for the first time since 2019, Arnold said patrons can look forward to excellent performances combined with a breathtaking atmosphere.

“…I think what you would get this time is a festival with what I call a concentrated set of energy and entertainment.

“I think you are going to get nostalgia. I remember when (singer and guitarist) George Benson was here, people were dancing on the lawn at the park – I see the same thing happening with Boys II Men; I see the same thing with Koffee; I see the same thing with people like Richie Spice. That’s what I see, a kind of nostalgic, reflective kind of experience.”

However, he said the “much more than music” slogan must resonate,

“I think there is so much in Tobago that a lot of people don’t realise.

“How many people have actually been to Nylon Pool? How many people have been to No Man’s Land? How many people have been in the rainforest? How many people have been to Little Tobago?

“So there is a lot to do in Tobago and I think it’s totally unexplored. I think it’s really about coming here and experience what we have to offer as an island, so you take in the music but you take in the other things that we have.”

Questioned on the budget for this year’s event, he said: “That would be revealed next week when the final tabs, we’re calling a press conference later on next week, that would be revealed at that time.”

He said the marketing machinery is already in motion.

“Our marketing department along with Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd, they’re working on several initiatives with that. One of the good things this year is that we started a sponsor caravan about three months ago, so what we’ve been doing – the marketing manager and myself – we’ve been going to Trinidad and meeting with several sponsors, a whole heap of them and one thing that we got was buy-in from everybody, they’re interested in being a part of this.”

He said discussions with the authorities managing the domestic airbridge and seabridge have started at different levels and will continue.

“We’re having two sets of discussions – one at the level of the agency and at our level, I have already contacted CAL and I’m seeking to have the kind of conversation that can address what we can do to increase that (number of flights).

“So we’re working with our partners, we’ve also spoken to the minister of tourism and culture for any assistance they can give us from their own end but overall, we’re working collaboratively with all the agencies to ensure that happens.”

He said the aim is for Tobago Jazz to be well managed and stick to its tight schedule.

“We need to get people out of Tobago on Sunday night. That’s another thing we want to work on – keeping the shows tight, really, really tight. There are change-over times, we really working with that. I really like this idea of starting on time but even more than that, finishing on time.”