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Questions over plans to revive Diamonds and Dorings Festival

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Disgruntled local events companies and service providers have questioned the “lack of transparency” surrounding plans to revive the Diamonds and Dorings Music Festival.

Disgruntled business owners were locked out of a media briefing at the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture’s offices. Picture: Soraya Crowie

DISGRUNTLED local events companies and service providers have questioned the “lack of transparency” surrounding plans to revive the Diamonds and Dorings Music Festival.

What was supposed to be a joyous occasion, when the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Sol Plaatje Municipality called a media conference this week to announce plans to resuscitate the festival, turned sour after aggrieved business owners tried to “hijack” the event.

Service providers gathered outside the department’s offices in Kimberley and demanded access to the premises as the media conference continued behind locked doors.

Some local media outlets were also left locked outside the building as a result of the disturbance.

A special Sol Plaatje council meeting was held earlier this week to set in motion a request from the Office of the Premier to allow the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to host and fund the festival this year, after it was last held in 2019.

Events company owners have accused the department and the municipality of “underhanded tactics” and claimed that they were not informed that a media conference would be called on Wednesday to announce the news of the festival being revived.

They said local service providers were being excluded from the festival planning and that this would see local businesses, as well as local artists, lose out.

The owner of Lacoste Entertainment said they had been part of the festival in the past but were now being excluded.

“We have been doing this project since 2012 and now we are sadly sidelined this year. I do not know what the motive was for sidelining events companies. There are four companies, which are not media companies, who are seated inside and are part of the media conference. We suspect that those companies will get the contract to organise the festival because they already have contracts with the department,” he said.

The owner of Risky Bys Events, Pule Tau, said there has been a lack of transparency.

“The festival is supposed to happen during the Easter holidays. How come there has been no tender issued or request for service providers to bid? We are in the dark about which company will organise the event. This event is only a few weeks away and there is much work to be done,” said Tau.

Other service providers also slammed the department and the municipality for not informing local businesses that the event would be revived.

“The information on the revival of the festival should have been shared with local companies. We cannot read about it in the media. Will a local company be responsible for organising the event or what will happen?” they asked.

“It is clear these people know exactly who they want to appoint and it will not be a fair bidding process. They have already selected people.

“They know the festival is only seven weeks away … how will they get artists to perform on such short notice? There was no tender advert placed and by next week it will be too late. The companies will not be left with not enough time to organise everything.

“This media conference is an indication that they already know who they want to appoint. Why would they call a media conference to merely state that they are longing for the return of the Diamonds and Dorings Festival when they have no clue who will be appointed to the project? Their intention was to announce the service providers for the festival.”

The MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Desery Fienies, said that a tender advert has yet to be issued.

“There is no tender out yet for the organiser or services needed for the festival. There is also no company that has been appointed,” said Fienies.

In her media statement, the MEC indicated that the revival of the festival would be an economic boost for the Diamond City and the Northern Cape.

“Diamonds and Dorings, which had proven itself as a premiere entertainment event over many years, fell off the entertainment calendar in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, cost-containment measures introduced by the National Treasury and budgetary constraints experienced by Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“Sol Plaatje Municipality held a special council meeting on Monday, February 5, 2024, and the municipality granted the department permission to host the event this year under certain conditions.

“Together with the municipality, we will be engaging organised business as we view this as an exciting opportunity to witness an economic injection in the local economy.

“I would also like to use this opportunity to encourage our communities to support these festivals as this forms part of our broader Easter weekend festivities,” Fienies said.

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