Boxing Day loses its 'sting' - Hard-core event to be held as private awards show

December 16, 2016
Isaiah Laing
Vybz Kartel (left) and Mavado at Sting in 2008.
Dr Donna Hope
In this file photo, patrons pack into Jamworld for the 2013 staging of Sting.

With just a little more than a week to go before Sting, organisers of the event have announced that Sting in its current format will cease to exist.

Speaking with THE WEEKEND STAR, Keona Williams, publicist for the event, said that stakeholders decided to not host the event this year, outlining the inability to secure a headline act and poor ticket sales as the main reasons for cancellation.

"Sting has always been about the hottest stars, and we can't keep a show without current headline acts. That makes no sense," she said.

"Dancehall's biggest headliner who is a crowd puller is incarcerated," she said.

"These new reigning acts not giving the same energy, resulting in poor tickets sales and a loss for us. The show cannot sustain itself, and since 2008, the loss has been too much. The expenses, including artiste fees, exceed ticket sales."

Instead of the Sting Jamaicans have grown accustomed to, Williams revealed that this year, the show will be a private, black-tie invitation only event.

"We are wrapping up Sting in its existing format, so this is somewhat a launch of that and a celebration of the success of the past three decades," she said.

"It will be a celebration to award persons who have supported the show over the decades, and will have performances like any other music awards show."

Williams then said she could not reveal additional details regarding the event, stating only that invitations will be issued soon, and that the venue will be revealed to those lucky enough to get invited.

But cultural analyst Dr Donna Hope expressed disappointment at the decision. She explained that while many persons believe that the event was dying a slow death, the Sting brand is a staple in the dancehall industry.

"Sting has a following, and people are going to be disappointed. They know that on Boxing Day, Sting is the event, and they look forward to going to it because of the brand that it has established," she said.

"(That)A very important brand is falling down at a time when we are losing many of our authentic stage shows is sad."

Hope said that not having a headline act should not have been the downfall of the show, as Sting promoters should know by now that artistes have become increasingly aware of their value, and should have been planning in advance to secure these top acts.

"A lot of people used to go on Sting to buss and to be seen, but now they do that on social media. So they want to be remunerated and they are demanding a lot of money. I believe that the lack of fore-planning, the lack of building the brand has led to Sting's demise."

Hope explained that instead of trying to rebrand and transforming itself into something that it's not, Sting should refine its already established brand.

Meanwhile, there are plans to develop Sting on a global platform as 'One World Sting' come 2017. The event will be held annually in other countries with the aim of spreading the brand and to fuse reggae and dancehall with all genres of global music.

"That is not going to work. Sting is a particular product. It has a gritty feel, and it's tied to the culture. If Sting is going to change its profile and identity to become something that it is not, it's not going to work," she said, explaining that the organisers need to invest in persons who are able to help them refine, not change the brand.

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