Hard blow to Puerto Rico’s entertainment industry
By Tamara Ortiz
SAN JUAN — Until next year Puerto Rico’s entertainment industry will be essentially stalled due to the postponement or cancellation of dozens of concerts, while losses within the industry reach multimillion-dollar figures.
At the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum (Choliseo), for example, all shows scheduled for October have been cancelled or postponed.
“As with the rest of the country, the Coliseum has had its operation affected. 100 percent of what we had scheduled for October has been moved or cancelled and November is being evaluated,” Choliseo general manager Eduardo Cajina explained to Caribbean Business.
He added that in the “hypothetical scenario that events could be held, the country isn’t ready for anything other than reconstruction on an individual and national level.”
“We are talking about multimillion-dollar losses in the different platforms, producers, our concessionaires, ushers […] all of the people who work in a show’s production,” the executive stated.
Local producers are also facing a similarly uncertain scenario. Producer Paco López had to cancel concerts by Vico C, Marc Anthony and Ñengo Flow until further notice, and all other concerts through December have been postponed until 2018.
“Puerto Rico isn’t emotionally prepared for a concert. Now the priority is to save lives, for people to have water, a roof […] entertainment is a luxury,” he added.
For his part, Producer César Sainz affirmed that all promoters are currently “unemployed, we are struck because we live from [entertainment] and we have ask when we will be ready?”
Although Sainz avoided talking about figures, he acknowledged that the industry’s losses could amount to millions of dollars.
“A lot of money is lost because we have to promote everything again, to reschedule dates, to make new publicity, if you bought flight tickets for artists, although you can change them, there are always fines,” he explained.
Moreover, López noted that these circumstances don’t just affect him as producer and the artist, but also the countless people who work backstage in show productions.
“I employ almost 100 people directly or indirectly in every concert, the people who work in sound are affected, monitors, gaffers, etc.,” he described.
López emphasized that even in the best case scenario, after the crisis is over, both producers and artists will have to adjust rates because the island’s economic situation is very discouraging.
“We producers will have to adjust to the country’s economic situation and we won’t be able to make concerts where the ticket costs $100 because people will not attend them. The artist will also have to adapt because I don’t determine prices because I want to, but rather the artist does, and I, logically, we don’t want to lose [money],” López said.
However, Sainz believes that once the island stabilizes, people will turn to entertainment as a means to heal the pain.
“Entertainment has become a necessity, I believe that as soon as communications, electricity and water are stabilized entertainment will reemerge. If you think about it, there’s massive traffic on the highways, and it’s people tired of being locked in their houses and [they] have gone out for recreation, even if it’s looking at the disaster,” Sainz opined.
United for a charity event
For his part, López considers that a fundraising event for the island is a real possibility.
“Before [Hurricane] Irma I was meetings with the first lady [Beatriz Rosselló] because we were going to do an event at the Convention Center, but then María came […] all our clients and artists want to help Puerto Rico,” López said.
Some of the cancelled concerts include: Isabel Pantojas, Bryan Adams, Gloria Trevi & Alejandra Guzmán, Ricardo Arjona, among others. For ticket reimbursements, people can visit the Choliseo’s Boletería Claro as soon as regular operations resume and electric service and Ticketpop systems are restored.
Presently, the Coliseum has become the island’s main collection and operations center for the First Lady Beatriz Rosselló’s initiative Unidos for Puerto Rico and the National Guard.