The Junkanoo community showed high levels of interest in the Bahamas Carnival at the Introductory Seminar held on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Nearly 200 Junkanoos and members of the business community turned out for the informational event held by the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) at SuperClubs Breezes.   Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Daniel Johnson emphasised the broad objective of stimulating opportunity in the creative sector. He said the Bahamas has all the ingredients in music, art and culture to be a world leader in the business of carnival, and the Bahamas Carnival would only serve as the beginning of creating a wider business model for culture in the Bahamas. 

The purpose of the seminar was to sensitise interested parties about the requirements to form certified companies for the carnival street parade, which is one of several signature events being planned for the spring festival in May 2015.  Hopeful companies will have to raise at least $5000 in startup capital to form companies for the 2015 Bahamas Carnival along with other criteria. Those who meet the requirements will be certified by the BNFC and benefit from a package of support services, including subsidies, business training, sales, marketing and distribution support. The Commission has partnered with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and other business professionals to provide ongoing support to those interested in forming certified companies.   “The timeline to May 2015 is very tight, so the Commission is putting support systems in place to ensure everyone can be successful. We have a transparent process that will ensure accountability. What the participants came to fully understand this week is that carnival is a business. Over 200 cities around the world have adopted the carnival business model with tremendous success. The largest carnivals around the world, which are not even in the Caribbean, each generate in excess of $300 million in annual GDP impact. They have made millionaires out of many men,” said Paul Major, Chairman of the BNFC. 

Participants in the Bahamas Carnival Introductory Seminar at SuperClub Breezes, on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, held by the Bahamas National Festival Commission.

“Businesses participating in carnival-related activities often see increased sales of up to 100% during the course of the season. Not everyone is going to support our efforts and that is okay, but the 200 people who showed up this week are serious about the opportunity. They understand this business model can generate $30 million in GDP impact for the Bahamas, while exporting Bahamian culture to the world and stimulating economic opportunity for cultural entrepreneurs,” said Mr Major.

Quentin “Barabbas” Woodside of Barabbas and the Tribe attended the seminar to hear about the entrepreneurial opportunities for the Junkanoo community. “Everyone stands to make money from the Bahamas Carnival. We have all the natural materials at our disposal and we have the opportunity to market these young men and women who can produce costumes and add value to their talents,” said the veteran Junkanoo.    Ed Fields, BNFC Events Committee Chair, emphasized that Bahamian culture will be celebrated and seen throughout Bahamas Carnival. Everything that is authentically Bahamian and indigenous to the Bahamas will be on display.  “This event is about celebrating Bahamian culture in all of its forms. Carnival is the economic vehicle that will drive participation. The Junkanoos and other cultural entrepreneurs will deliver an experience that is authentically Bahamian. Bahamians who are looking for opportunities can start up a carnival company that will design and sell costumes and packages for the main street parade next year,” said Mr Fields.    Carlos Bain, a builder and designer with the Shell Saxons Superstars said he was pleased with the information presented at the event. He said it highlighted the equal opportunities for Bahamians interested in forming companies for the Bahamas Carnival.    “I had some questions about the criteria, indigenous materials to be used and the seed money; the workshop clarified a lot of those concerns” said Mr Bain.