NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Lanisha Rolle, said Thursday that recent cuts to her ministry’s budget were “justifiable”.
It was revealed during last month’s 2019/2020 Budget Debate that the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s budget was cut by over $5 million dollars.
Yesterday, Rolle said although she is aware of the criticism from members of the public, the budget cut was necessary when taken into a broader context.
“The cut was justifiable, based on what we would’ve spent last year and based on the needs this year,” she explained. “We do have in the government’s purse, access to additional funds if they are needed.”
This budget cut mostly impacts funding for international gaming events, but other aspects like Junkanoo have also been affected.
Junkanoo groups normally had two lead costumes which were meant to be as elaborate and cultural as possible, costing anywhere up to $30,000, but this budget cut means that only one lead costume will be produced now.
While many junkanoo groups are fine with the budget cut, one group (Roots) has expressed their displeasure with the new changes. Rolle said, however, that she is working on coming up with a compromise to this problem.
“I am prepared to have a conversation as we prepare for the 2019-2020 Junkanoo year,” Rolle said. “We will have a coming together, a meeting of the minds and the technical authors within the junkanoo industry and I’ll hear what their rationale is and we’ll take it from there.”
Rolle noted, however, that even though conflict is part of the experience when compromising, it is most important to make sure that everyone’s needs are met so the Bahamian public can experience junkanoo with the same amount of authenticity and excitement they did before.
“Certainly, we want to ensure that as a community putting on an event for the public, we meet the needs of the public and certainly that we maintain their interest.”
Rolle said that although she cannot disclose specific information surrounding the planned discussion, more information about this matter will be revealed in August after a meeting with her colleagues and members of the junkanoo community.