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May 25, 2022

International Music and Food Festival Draws Controversy

The hottest concert ticket in town is yet to go on sale and the controversy that has come with an announcement by the B.T.B. that there will be a first-of-its-kind international music and food festival at the end of July already has the local artist community buzzing. It promises to be the biggest lineup of Belizean and international artists to take the stage for a two-day event on La Isla Bonita, but many questions are being asked about the price tag, the fees that performers will collect and accountability for the cost of the event since the monies are being drawn from the public purse. Earlier today, we spoke with Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations Anthony Mahler, as well as Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow, Belize’s former musical ambassador. They both have opposing views on the upcoming concert and what it means for artist exposure. We begin with Mahler who believes that music is an integral part of Belize’s tourism product.


Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations

Anthony Mahler

“we have a budget of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  Now we believe that there is going to be revenue generating potential for the concert and so it is going to offset what we have allocated to invest into this.  We have to be able to compete internationally and so, I see this as an investment in our musicians.  I see this as an investment in the food component of our industry.  It is very crucial that we help to create a platform or platforms for these things to be infused into the overall tourism product ona high scale. Listen to me, when Buju Banton came to Belize, and I am going to say this publicly right now.  I was going to hold it for the house, the Leader of the Opposition called me to come and greet Buju Banton and I said, “Why would I go?”  For the last month or two, we’ve been negotiating with Buju Banton, trying to have him be the headlining [act] for the festival and every single week he changes his price.  And I said, I am not going because he is quoting us two hundred thousand U.S dollars.  The Leader of the Opposition said to me, “He is worth more.”  He said, “I would pay him two hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars and more.  He is worth it.”  So if I paid Buju Banton two hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars, that’s five hundred thousand dollars.  That’s three quarter of the budget that we have for at least forty of the local and international artists, and that is the real.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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