By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - After a memorable performance in Gaborone in April, where he had fans eating out of his palm, pop artist, Billy Ocean also left promoters with mounting bills.
Ocean and Salif Keita were the star attractions at the annual Hampton Jazz festival at the Duma FM grounds.
The show was initially postponed with the organisers, the Hamptons, citing permit issues.
It was held on April 28 and although it was not sold out as the previous edition, it was still seen as a success. However, reports immediately emerged that the show had left a huge hole in the promoters’ pockets.
Debbie Smith, one of Hamptons’ directors, admitted through media interviews that the show had left them with bills to settle, which included hotel expenses.
A nurse working in the UK, Smith said it was not true that she had ‘run away’ from the debts soon after the show.
Instead, she said she had to fly back due to work commitments.
Smith said there is still P44,000 to be refunded to fans who bought tickets for the earlier show.
She promised this would be done by the end of June. Smith said the changes to the permit issue, which saw the hours initially curtailed, before a green light for the required hours was given, hard an adverse effect on the show.
“Our logistics team had to make drastic changes following the Cabinet authorisation with additional costs, which seriously affected our budget. Fans became worried about the cancellation all together with some sending threatening messages resulting P124,000 worth of refunds demanded,” she told the local media.
She said the venue owners increased their initial charge from P80, 000 to P120,000 before they settled for P110,000 after negotiations.
Ocean was paid P500,000 while Keita’s bank balance improved by P250,000.
“Zahara also charged us an extra P75,000 fees for performance. We paid her P50,000 meaning a total fee of P150,000 fully paid and R25,000 at a later stage,” Smith said.
The festival cost around P4 million to put together.
“I know people believe we ran away from our troubles but this is what we have always done when we needed funds for the festival. We go back to our day jobs to raise funds so we can pay back refunds and all the remaining bills,” she told the weekly, Sunday Standard.
After a hugely successful four editions, the future of the jazz festival hangs in the balance.