PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has announced that for the first time in its 46-year history, it has appointed a permanent Director to run its day-to-day operations. SCDF chose to stay in-house and appoint current President Mike Granger to the position.
As such, Granger will further execute a five-year development plan put in motion when he started his tenure as President in 2013.
The SCDF board will allow Granger to hold both positions until the foundation holds its very next elections at which time a new President will be elected.
Granger will carry on as Director after that, working closely with a new President and reporting directly to the board on all matters. His tenure as President expires in September 2017.
In an invited comment, Granger said that the biggest difference is that he would be active, not only during the months surrounding Carnival. He said that holding both positions is allowed under SCDF’s articles of incorporation, but that the situation is only temporary.
In either role in the meantime, as Director or as President, he still answers to the board, which makes all decisions for the foundation. Although he is part of the nine-person board, he was excluded from the voting process.
SCDF called Granger “a 16-year Carnival veteran.” Granger has held the positions of Public Relations Officer, Secretary, Vice President and President (twice) for the board of SCDF.
“He is currently guiding St. Maarten’s largest calendar event through a period of rapid growth, buoyed by new marketing strategies, corporate commitments and stakeholder participation.
“The appointment of a fulltime Director is a move that Parliament as well as the Council of Ministers in 2013 and 2014 recommended that the SCDF make to professionalise and streamline its operations. It allows the business of Carnival to carry on year-round in a structured manner, led by someone who understands Carnival inside-out,” the foundation says.
In making the announcement, SCDF touted Granger’s tenure as an extremely successful one with many firsts for Carnival. SCDF called him a person “more than deserving” of the historic appointment.
Under Granger’s leadership SCDF has contracted a local marketing firm to enhance the operational and commercial aspects of the Carnival product locally and to the region and commissioned Carnival market study reports to reflect the true economic impact of Carnival and draft policies accordingly, among other things.
As a result, hotels have recorded record occupancy levels in the month of April for three consecutive years according to Tourism Bureau figures, the foundation says.
Under his tenure, SCDF has recorded an increase in attendance to all Carnival events for three years running, secured major long-term corporate sponsorships and initiated the highly successful Road to Carnival events.
He established links with Trinidad and major brand Carib Beer through marketing and is currently seeking to bring parts of Trinidad’s Carnival product to St. Maarten in guest capacities.
SCDF established its own Media Team to complement its marketing initiatives, it has involved Carnival stakeholders by outsourcing many activities, put more emphasis on local musicians and bands with the green-lighting of the Soca Rumble, Fire XL and “local bands first” policies.
SCDF has also marketed Jouvert throughout the region and established it as the largest single street event in the North-eastern Caribbean, cultivated young, local promoters who bring new marketing initiatives to Carnival via international concerts.
It has also dedicated days in Carnival Village to the family and further put local cuisine on display with Village Cook Ups, initiated the Simpson Bay Causeway Jump-Up and established the live online streaming of Carnival which receives more than 200,000 unique viewers worldwide annually.
“It has always been my honour and privilege to work with the dynamic volunteers of SCDF in organising Carnival. We take great pride in what we do and we are continuously looking to enhance the Carnival product through wide participation,” Granger says.
“I am humbled that the foundation has enough faith in me to entrust me with the year-round functioning of Carnival. Other than the title, for me everything remains the same. I love Carnival and together with my colleagues will apply the same passion in ensuring that it thrives.”
He added that the foundation’s priority remains financial sustainability and identifying new ways and business models to ensure a financially healthy festival.
“Earlier this year, we outlined the numbers for the public and showed that while Carnival continues to grow, so does our financial commitments with revenue that simply falls short.
“Our responsibility, therefore, is to change the way we’ve been doing business get out of a constant cycle of debt. This is exactly what we have started following Carnival 2015 and we hope that these initiatives get us to where we need to be financially.”
Despite financial challenges, Granger said the popularity and participation in Carnival are at levels never experienced before.
“We have organising committees from other islands coming here to see how we do things, how we make it work. We are seeing other regional Carnivals using St. Maarten’s blueprint in terms of marketing and outreach. When your neighbours see it fit to use your operations as examples to follow, you know you are doing something right.
“But we are never satisfied. We want people to look forward to ‘fettin’ year-round; we want corporate St. Maarten and government to understand how the economy moves during Carnival time. There are many plans for Carnival and we hope we can continue to count on all Carnival lovers with their suggestions and advice on how to make the people’s festival bigger than it already is.”