Durban to host Essence Festival for R34.4m over three years

2015-06-23 20:44
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Durban - The eThekwini Municipality will spend R34.4m over three years to emulate an US entertainment festival, it announced on Tuesday.

Head of Durban tourism, Phillip Sithole, revealed that it would cost R6.4m alone to launch the Essence Festival during the Durban Business Fair taking place in October this year. The actual festival will take place in September next year at a cost of R12.9m and R15.1m in 2017.

Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala presented a report during an executive committee meeting informing her colleagues of her visit to New Orleans in the United States where she attended the festival.

“It was amazing, there were stalls everywhere, there were jazz musicians playing on the streets all night, it was wonderful,” she said. 

According to a report, the Essence Festival is owned by Time International, an industry-leading collection of media brands such as Time, InStyle, People and Essence. The festival is an annual African American event that is hosted in New Orleans. It has been running for the past 20 years and attracts 400 000 people from all over the world.

The report explained that a delegation from eThekwini municipality met with the festival organisers and they were subsequently invited to attend the 2014 Durban Business Fair. The Essence team presented their concept and proposal to City Manager Sbu Sithole and other senior management and it was agreed that Durban would host the Essence Festival in 2015.

Sithole said the festival would be hosted on a small scale this year.

“The launch will be done during this year’s Business Fair, we will have speakers from all over the world. The actual festival will happen next year and in 2017,” said Sithole.

The report requested council to approve a licence fee of R5m to utilise Time and Essence platform for this year, R6m for 2016 and R7m for 2017.  

For the launch the city needs to approve R1.3m to host speakers and artists and pay their booking fees for next year and R8.1m in 2017.

Sithole said Durban needed its own signature event. “Together with Essence Magazine, we are going to make this our signature event and we want to see women, in particular, participating in the event. Look at the Cape Town Jazz Festival, it is an international event today.

“The Essence team is offering something unique and they will definitely put Durban on the map and the city will benefit immensely from the partnership,” said Sithole.

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