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Festival hits back over unpaid fees claim

The Bermuda Orchestra plays under the direction of conductor Paul Sherman at the opening of the 40th annual Bermuda Festival (File photo by Mark Tatem)

The Bermuda Festival paid “travellers fees” to the Bermuda Entertainers Union in December, refuting claims that they had not been paid, in a statement released this afternoon.

Ian Davidson, Bermuda Festival chairman, stated: “It was with great disappointment that we read in the January 26 edition of The Royal Gazette that the president of the Bermuda Entertainment Union (BEU) made a statement at their Special Meeting on Sunday claiming the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts had not paid travellers fees for the visiting artists for this year’s 40th Festival.

“Quite simply, this is not true. The Bermuda Festival paid the requisite fees to the union’s bank account on December 9, 2014, in accordance with existing immigration policy. It is unfortunate that statements such as this are made, especially against The Festival, whose sole mandate is to promote the performing arts in the community.

“The Bermuda Festival is a not-for-profit organisation dependent on sponsors, patrons, donors and volunteers and focused on education through our extensive outreach and masterclass programmes. We have paid these travellers fees as required for the past several years, notwithstanding the financial challenge they present.

“Our mission is to promote the performing arts in the community, particularly with the young, because it is widely recognised internationally that exposure to the performing arts has a positive impact on the development of all, particularly youth. Each year we carefully select artists who have a strong commitment to sharing their craft through participation in our Outreach Programme.

“The negative references to us made by the BEU are very discouraging to all who give so freely of their time to support the Festival’s mission.

“The purpose of the Outreach Programme is to focus on teaching students of all ages about the passion and dedication involved in the performing arts. Throughout the duration of the Festival visiting performers will perform for, and work with local students.”

Mr Davidson concluded by saying: “True to the original philosophy of the Founders, The Festival continues to offer a range of performances by a diverse selection of international and local artists. Initially the emphasis was on music, but over the past 40 years, we have diversified to cover the entire spectrum of the performing arts so that we provide something for every member of the community. Indeed, in performances just last Friday and Saturday evenings we featured two of Bermuda’s accomplished musicians participating as soloists with the world renown English Chamber Orchestra.

“This was in addition to over 250 resident musicians of all ages who played with the ECO in a massed orchestra on the steps of City Hall at noon on Friday to officially open the Festival’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

“And this weekend, Bermudian Broadway sensation Rebecca Faulkenberry will perform at The Fairmont Southampton Princess, as well as conducting a workshop for middle and high school students.”