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Culture Editor's Picks Opinion

Sand Music Festival hits back at critics

The Sand music Festival team, on Tuesday 19 November took some time to respond Gregory Gondwe a newspaper columnist who recently criticised the organisation. Below is the response from the organisation.

The arguments and opinions stated in the passage below are not necessarily The Groupie’s but of sand Festival.  

Your opinion of the Sand Music Festival in the newspaper was misguided and I think you lacked adequate information to guide your argument.

As such, we are pleased to offer these explanations to give you context on why some decisions were made.

1. We didn’t have low patronage at the festival. We expected 2,000 people and we got 2,000 people. Over the past years, our focus was on getting crowds but we realized that compromised on a lot of things. We would rather have a compact crowd that will enjoy a really good show. Everyone that came to the festival had a good time, hitches here and there notwithstanding

A cross section of the patronage at Sand Music Festival

2. The nature of the audience is guided by the amount of resources that one has. We realised early on that this would be a difficult year and it would be tough to get adequate resources to pay for an expensive headliner. We had NO single sponsor for this year’s festival. So, we lived within our means and delivered a festival that was within our budget. Most of you people that demand world-class artists do not even come to support the festival. But even if you do, we hardly raise enough money to pay-off everyone and all expenses. The result is timatsala ndingongole when all of you have gone home. After the festival, the trouble begins, paying off everyone and balancing the books.

3. On the clash of dates. There are only three weekends in the year that one can hold a festival: end September, end October or end of November. That is when you are assured that you will not be a victim of the elements. Now, we have too many festivals and pseudo-festivals in Malawi these days. There is no way one can avoid a clash of dates. But it is good to have too many festivals, Malawians deserve a variety of choice. They will pick which festival to attend. That way, everyone will improve the delivery of their product.

4. As background, these artists that people mention like they come cheap like a Limbe vendor cost an arm and a leg. While we are proud to have hosted some of the best artists in the world over the years, we have resorted to bringing artists that we can afford, depending on the gate charges and sponsorship that we receive. Diamond alone cost $30,000 and that is minus air tickets and per diems, food and accommodation for the whole team in Malawi. Busy Signal costs around the same. Achina Davido and Teckno that people want, cost $100,000 (K75 million) performance basi. Do your maths. If, and when, we get a sponsor willing to partner us in bringing these world-class acts, then we might just be brave enough to dip into those waters.

5. Without being cynical, we would like to use this opportunity to highlight the immorality of the companies that benefit from the festival without investing anything in return. For instance, during that one weekend, thousands of merry-goers trek to Salima from Blantyre and Lilongwe, driving about a thousand cars. Surely, any sensible manager at a fuel company would notice an upward trend in fuel consumption on the SandFest weekend. Yet, what do they give in return? And that these companies do not even feel an obligation to support us should drive them to shame. We believe that anyone who benefits from something without investing should be ashamed of themselves.

6. SandFest clocks 10 years next year. And we will be back once more on the shores of Salima at a venue and date to be announced in the next month.

7. Lastly, we are thankful to those 2,000 people that came to support us at this year’s SandFest, we don’t take this support for granted. We are forever grateful. And to everyone who has supported us through the years; our friends, family, the sponsors who have stood with us over the years, the venues, our partners and everyone who has shown us love. Thank you for the depths of our souls. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

Thankfully,

SandFest Team

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