THE FLOGG PRESENTS THE DODGE OF THE WEEK AWARD TO SLTB
|Would I lie to you?|
“We can’t tell you that.”
“We don’t want to get into that.”
“We’re not discussing that.”
Those were the answers to all the toughest questions at this morning’s Tourist Board press conference.
After weeks of sustaining major damage in the press, the Tourist Board finally held apress conference to address the annual post-jazz controversies and scandals.
Emails showArnold and others at Tourist Board didn't think a Lucian was strong enough to close HOT COUTURE. StillTracey insists, "We pushed to ensure that Lucians got priority."
Wooing the media with Tracey Warner-Arnold's pretty charts and lots of stats that no one would have thought to ask for, Director Louis Lewis, PRO John Emmanuel and Warner herself showed that things are getting better for the ailing festival in its first year of revamp. The attendance numbers are up across the board. And while surveys show that most people still think the festival is good, not excellent, the three Tourist Board officers agree that at least the decline has been arrested and the festival is no longer in a coma.
“It was the best year for recording arrivals,” Lewis told the press, in the kind of statement that would dominate the rest of the press conference. Three thousand five hundred people came specifically for the festival, there were 7000 more paying patrons on the Sunday as last year and even the Saturday mainstage got a little bump.
But while these numbers were interesting, those were not the numbers most people were itching to hear about over the last week and a half since the close of the festival.
Reporters wanted to know why the Tourist Board didn’t refute or at least distance themselves from Vincent McDoom’s criticisms of the HOT COUTURE producers through the last week of steaming hot controversy.
Lewis: “We appreciated the restraint on the part of the producers (Mae Wayne and Adrian Augier). What we didn’t want was for this (scandal) to become the signature or what was most remembered about this year’s festival.”
Unfortunately, it was what wasmost remembered, which is why reporters were asking why Tourist Board did not immediately address it.
Lewis: “We did not want to encourage or be associated with it.”
As if they had a choice.
Lewis: “After his (McDoom’s) press conference, there was no attempt to get feedback from us.”
Ironically, the question from the reporter was whether they got in touch with him.
Lewis: “Many disparaging remarks were made and these things were so far from the truth.”
Like what? Lewis, Warner and Emmanuel never got specific. Even when reporters came back to the same questions about Tourist Board’s spending, they insisted that everything you’ve heard is not true, but refused to release the categorical truth (as Lewis himself is fond of saying.
Instead Lewis deftly used his sleight of lip to direct attention this way: “Mr McDoom is a very creative person, passionate about his work. But he sought to make himself the center of attention and when he failed, he disparaged the board.”
As for allegations that Tourist Board paid one producer over $60,000 and another one about twice that, Lewis said: “That is absolutely and categorically not factual. The Tourist Board has a clear process for contracting services. People on the outside may try to overcharge us. But that’s very hard to do because of the process of tendering…
As for the stage that models complained about ad nauseum last week, Lewis said, with a perfectly straight face: “Models walked that stage without challenge of difficulty.”
Lewis is apparently totally ignorant of the fact that most models have confirmed that the stage was dangerous and many of them had falls and near-falls during rehearsals. Most of them reading this will wonder what universe he lives in and what drugs make him happy.
On the critical question on HOT COUTURE, Will McDoom be back next year?, Lewis said, “It’s a bit early to respond to whether McDoom will come back.”
Tracey Warner-Arnold insisted, “We made collaborative decisions. In all of our discussions, we pushed to ensure that St Lucians were pushed forward.”
However, when confronted with that showed categorically that Tourist Board preferred a foreign designer to end the show, she backtracked, saying, “At the time the emails were sent, there was a showing and not all of the local designers had entire lines to show.”
When confronted with the fact that the foreign designers were not in St Lucia and their clothes had not been seen either, Warner seemed strangely to be on McDoom’s side, saying that he had to go out and look for designers and advise them about how and what to present.
“On the Sunday before the show, a casting call was made to see who was wearing what. Not all of the local designers were ready,” Warner insisted again, in spite of the fact that the foreigners weren’t ready either and neither the producers, nor the Tourist Board knew what they would be showing.
“I can’t say categorically, I wasn’t there withMae and Vincent,” added Warner, mere minutes after boasting about collaborative decision-making.
“We were not being as transparent as you just requested,” Lewis chimed in when reporters asked more questions about mis-organisation and over-pricing.
So how much did Tourist Board really pay for Mae Wayne and Adrian Augier? Was it $60,000? $120,000? Now that Tourist Board was out to clear the air, what was so wrong about the fees that some media thought producers charged?
“That information is absolutely, factually and categorically wrong,” Lewis declared confidently.
So what’s the right information, dear Servant of The People and Government of St Lucia?
“I don’t want to get into a dialogue on this,” Lewis said.
“We cannot give the pricing,” Warner added.
Poor John-boy says the blogs are cyber-bullies to Tourist Board
“People are engaging in cyber-bullying,” John Emmanuel came to the rescue. “We go on our blogs and complain because we did not get our way.”
So basically, Tourist Board says that whatever information you have that didn’t come from them is wrong. And whatever the right information is, they have it, but they’re not telling us.
Nyah, nyah,nyahnyahnyaaaa! Or as the Lucians say, “Belelesh!!!!”