At this time of the year, the headlines would be shouting, ‘All systems go for GT Taylor Christmas Extravaganza’, the exciting Christmas Day reggae and dancehall show staged annually by the media personality. However, for the first time in 20 years the calendar event in St Elizabeth is not happening; but the promoter is hoping for better days come 2021.
“I am really feeling down because I cannot put on the event this year. Every year, we use the same set of people for stage, sound, lighting and the grounds crew. We are like family, and for many, this was a part of their Christmas money,” a dejected-sounding GT Taylor told The Gleaner.
Taylor is also concerned that the charities that would usually benefit from Extravaganza will miss out this year. “I feel sad that I cannot assist the St Bess Care Committee, which has a programme to feed the street people, and another of our charities is the Cancer Society,” he explained.
It was in June that Taylor said he assessed the situation with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and soon concluded that there was no way he could host a live event in 2020. According to the veteran radioman, “By the middle of the year, we would start our full-force planning and by September, we would be in promotion mode. There was a glimmer of home when the Government did a partial reopening of the sector with a limit of 250 people, but my show needs way more than that to be profitable. If we scaled down, then patrons would have to be asked to pay too much at the gate, so we took the heart-breaking decision to sit out 2020, even before things reached the stage that they are at now.”
With the virtual realm the new place to be for most things, including stage shows, Taylor admitted that he was encouraged to go that route, but decided against it because it would not be financially viable. “Because Extravaganza is at a standard, we would not want a veranda production, just to keep our name alive. We would have to aim for a first-class production similar to what Joe [Bogdanovich] did for Sumfest. That would mean more cameras, extra lights, special effects, a production team with expertise, and, when you add all of that to the artiste fees, it doesn’t pencil out,” he said.
He pointed out that potential sponsors are staging their own virtual events, leaving very little of the sponsorship dollar for “real promoters”. But the show promoter is trying to be as optimistic as possible for the future, even as he encourages everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols and enjoy a quiet festive season at home.
“The pandemic is very serious, so it’s best to just leave the partying alone and pray that 2021 will be better,” he said.
GT Taylor Christmas Extravaganza, held at Independence Park in Black River, is known for giving the patrons quality entertainment in a clean and secure environment. It has featured artistes such as Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Sizzla, Sanchez, Ninja Man, Busy Signal, Gage, Cocoa Tea, George Nooks, Professor Nuts, Peter Metro, RDX, Hezron, Mr Khool, Khago, Konfydence, Tiana, Ikaya, K Queens, Ishawna, Venjahnce, Nature,, Don Husky, Villa Dutch, Paul Elliot, Anthony Cruz, Bush Man, Hero, Mikeylous, Biggaton, and Mr Absolute, all on the same show.