Earlier last month, on August 15, St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) launched its official calendar announcing the line-up for Carnival 2020. The absence of Bacchanal Sunday was felt, causing everyone to become very vocal about their disagreement with this great omission.

Thanks to a post on the SCDF Facebook page day-before-yesterday, rumours have been sparked that everything has been cleared up and Bacchanal Sunday will happen. It is with the happiest tidings that I bring you certified confirmation that indeed the fifth anniversary of Bacchanal Sunday will definitely be taking place during St. Maarten Carnival 2020.

Kalaboom CEO and everyone’s favourite promoter, Skelet, was kind enough to sit down and give an exclusive interview to the Out n’ About.

Imagine if you will, the pride that comes from St. Maarten being able to boast hosting the Caribbean’s Biggest Wet Fete year after year. Each year during the Carnival season, Kalaboom Events executes Bacchanal Sunday, featuring top-performing local and regional artistes.

Many of us have been to at least one Bacchanal Sunday, and for those of you who haven’t, it’s essentially a huge party where everyone and almost everything in the Carnival Village is transformed into a wet, foamy mess speckled with colourful powders and dripping in debauchery.

From its inception almost five years ago, the event has been introducing innovative concepts, many of which have taken the local party experience from musical sessions to must-see emotional life experiences. To attend a Kalaboom event – especially one as big as Bacchanal Sunday – is to create a memory worth sharing, not only on your social media, but also during future conversations.

But heavy is the head that wears the Kalaboom crown. Skelet wanted to break down the true cost of what it takes to host an event as grand as Bacchanal Sunday. “Most people don’t understand what it takes to really put on the kind of events Kalaboom does. They see a huge turnout and think, ‘Okay they must have made their money back.’ But sometimes you lose a lot of money, and the years that you just breakeven are the good times. 

What’s a rough estimate of the cost of Bacchanal Sunday?

When looking at it from the cost of a rounded number, if you want to host something like Bacchanal Sunday, it costs roughly $150,000. This number may not seem like a lot when you calculate that 5,000 people would pay $30 a ticket, but the math and hidden cost hold a lot of risk. The $150K is only the most Basic Cost of Operation. This is without ticket sales or sponsorship. A lot of things have to be paid for even before tickets are sold and the event is announced.

Can you give an idea of some of the things you would have to pay for?

There are things like venue fees, artiste fees, sound, stage, lights, screens, security, flights, accommodation, food, staffing, tickets, printing, promotions and transportation. In addition, there is the matter of per diem, which covers food and drink for artistes.

How much would you need in ticket sales minimum?

To cover basic cost, you would need a minimum of 5,000 people at $30 guaranteed to purchase tickets. This does not include taxes at the end of the show, like the 5% TOT on each ticket sold and 12.5% on every artiste and DJ fee paid. This is why promoters find it hard to book bigger acts to make the event better.

How come you keep bringing the same artistes every year?

People can complain about the same artistes showing up every year, but that’s because we’re aware of previous cost to bring them to the island. You may not be able to budget precisely, but you can gauge what the cost will look like based on what was previously spent.

What’s up with the bigger artistes?

The cost of an American artiste is $50K minimum. This, of course, is just their payment. This doesn’t include the price of plane tickets, food and accommodations. You can’t budget what hotels and flights will cost, especially in the case of having to charter a flight when there is none available on the day you need it. If an artiste gets hurt, the hospital fees can be yours too. Then there are miscellaneous fees that can pop up before, during and after the event. Budgeting can only work for specific fees, but nothing is certain.

Why not increase ticket prices to afford it?

If we increased the price of the tickets to $50, we will get bashed. I know, because a raise of price can cause backlash, and people will assume we want to get rich with their money. We try our best to make everyone happy by putting the ticket cost low to ensure we will have a good crowd.

What’s it like to be a promoter?

Most of the time, promoters don’t gain anything from the events we host. We basically work for the happiness of the people, and everyone else involved besides us get paid. People will look at you like a superhero, but this is really a gambler’s lifestyle. However, win or lose, taxes have to be paid. This entertainment business is not easy. I salute all the real promoters, who keep pushing to make things happen. And I thank all the sponsors and partners, like SCDF, that help us to make our visions into actual events.

Why was there a delay in announcing Bacchanal Sunday?

I wanted my people to know that even if there were no negotiations, there was no stopping us and there would still be a Bacchanal Sunday 2020. At the end of the day, the goal of Kalaboom Events is to maximise tourism at the possibility of having larger crowds and bigger experiences. Regionally, we do the best in terms of quality, while still trying to keep the costs low. To do this, it is essential we have more sponsors and backing, which is hard to get because of certain agreements made with SCDF, our hands are often tied. It was a difficult decision to host next year’s Bacchanal Sunday during the Carnival, but after some negotiation, we finally came to an understanding with SCDF and can now move on to host not only Bacchanal Sunday, but also Jouvert Morning Splash.

Kalaboom Events is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. They are at the forefront of events’ innovation. Regardless of being the youngest promoters, they turn out approximately 30 events a year for the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin and continue to build their brand to quality levels that have not only recognition, but respect.