Barbados taxpayers foot bill for finale May 2, 2007

Closing ceremony cost US$750,000

© The Nation
The closing ceremony of the World Cup cost taxpayers in Barbados more than US$750,000.

Investigations by the Midweek Nation have revealed that the fee charged by artistic director Peter Minshall of Trinidad and Tobago was US$500,000, covering pan players, carnival puppets, Moko jumbies, Bele dancers and field performers. The majority of this sum, as indicated by documentation obtained through Minshall's business entity, The Callaloo Company, went toward performers and crew (US$200,000) and puppet manufacture (US$75,000). The breakdown of the costs also included large sums for auditions, training, costume manufacture and shipping crates.

The cultural presentation, which lasted about 45 minutes, was seen by television audiences for fewer than 15 minutes. Additionally, because of the late start, the extravaganza was viewed by fans at Kensington Oval in relative darkness.

The cost attached to the cultural presentation has sparked controversy, with many questioning whether top Barbadian artistic directors and production experts had been considered for this stage of the country's biggest ever international event.

Further investigations by the Midweek Nation have also revealed that local organisers entered into an arrangement with a Miami-based company called ACT Productions Inc., located at 1688 Meridian Avenue, Suite 400, Miami Beach, Florida, to look after the technical side of the presentation.

In correspondence sent to Dr Allyson Leacock, consultant executive producer for Saturday's cultural finale, ACT Production Inc's management producer Bruce Orosz settled on a fee of US$270,204, with a requirement that local authorities deposited US$202,653 up front.

Among the areas for which the charges applied were pre-production (site inspection and show-planning), provision of lighting system, band location lighting package, production crew, television lighting engineering, air travel, insurance and legal fees. The highest individual quotation of US$79 300 went toward the lighting system.

The Midweek Nation has also discovered that prior to the reopening of Kensington Oval, a foreign company got the contract in September 2006 to provide cleaning services at the Fontabelle, St Michael facility. Cleanevent International Pty Ltd., based in South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, was paid BDS$18 700 by the Barbados LOC, World Cup Barbados Inc., via wire transfer to the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited. Sources indicated that company then sub-contracted local entities to do the work at the Oval under the direction of its representative, Paul "Digga" Barrett.

This sort of arrangement, it has been revealed, was repeated at other stadia across the region where countries were divided into "precincts" under the management of other Cleanevent representatives.

Efforts over the past two days to contact Leacock for comment on the logistics of the cultural presentation proved futile. Yesterday chief executive officer of World Cup Barbados Inc., Stephen Alleyne, declined immediate comment, indicating that a media conference would be held to deal with issues related to the tournament.