High hopes for virtual Reggae Sunsplash - Executive director says event will be ‘a whole experience’
Following a 14-year hiatus, organisers of Reggae Sunsplash were hoping to make a grand return to the live entertainment scene this year.
Several artistes had been booked, the venue had been secured, and plans were well advanced for the festival to be staged at the end of November.
But COVID-19 struck, causing the entertainment industry to be put on lockdown. But the festival's executive producer, Tyrone Wilson, is finding positives with hosting a 'virtual Sunsplash'.
"I think the virtual staging presents a nice likkle way for us to come back softer and reintroduce the brand. I kinda see things for what it is, and truth is, a pandemic is here and as an entrepreneur, I take crisis as an opportunity, and I think this was a good way to reposition and reintroduce the brand without a huge spectacle per se," said Wilson. "The physical staging that we were undertaking was a huge festival and we had the support and thing from major sponsors like VISA and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) going into it, but then when the pandemic came and we looked at things, there were so many opportunities to minimise some of the risk that came with a physical festival that we jumped on it and we feel very good about this online show. Everything happened for a reason and this is a good way, as I said, for us to make our comeback."
Wilson stressed that an online staging will not lower the quality of production for Reggae Sunsplash, which is slated for November 27 and 28.
He said that having already secured a number of the industry's top acts to perform, the event will be one for the books.
"This virtual staging of Reggae Sunsplash will be bringing forward as much of a physical experience as possible," he said. "We have a few bars and hubs who will be live-streaming the festival, and so if you choose to go and watch the event at these locations, you can actually feel like you're there with the artistes and with us in person. And if you choose to watch it at home, we have set up a way where you can turn it into your own unique event by ordering your favourites like wines from Betco, rum from Worthy Park, and KFC with special discounts and free delivery through Quick Plate and 7Krave. It's going to be a whole experience."
Wilson said Dexta Daps, Barrington Levy, Jesse Royal, Agent Sasco and Masicka have so far been billed to perform.
"We have a really good line-up with some of the hottest acts in the local music industry. Dexta Daps will be closing night two and we have so many other big-name acts who will be a part of the event. It will be streamed live on our Reggae Sunsplash YouTube page as well as the YouTube pages belonging to Magnum Tonic Wine and the JTB," he said. "Success for us will be the ability to pull off a world-class production, and we are confident that we can. We are aiming for 100,000 viewers per night and we believe we have the show that can pull that number. The artistes are excited to perform and have expressed gratitude at being aligned with the show. The Reggae Sunsplash brand is still an iconic brand. It's return will be historic in more ways than one."