By William Alexander
A SHADOW of controversy has been cast over the upcoming Nelson Mandela Bay Megafest music extravaganza with local artists claiming they have been overlooked by organisers.
The event, which is being organised by private company Zeranza, and will be headlined by international stars Ludacris, Ne-Yo, Shaggy and Protoje, has been set for June 2 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
But according to Nelson Mandela Metro Music Association chairman Dumile Manxoyi the number of Eastern Cape artists performing at the festival is well below what it should be.
“It’s disrespectful and it undermines their [local artists’] efforts,” Manxoyi said. “There’s no significant music industry in the Eastern Cape and because of this artists are encouraged to go to Johannesburg.”
He also questioned Zeranza’s lack of experience in organising large festivals, saying the company was “not familiar with the landscape and local artists”.
At the Megafest launch on Tuesday April 17 organisers came under fire from a host of local artists who said they were “sick and tired” of being undervalued.
One member of the audience voiced concern that Megafest would be unable to meet its anticipated target of a 50 000-strong audience as the concert was aimed at a younger audience who could not afford the R150 ticket price.
He also expressed anger that the organisers had secured the services of Lloyd Stanbury, a production manager from Jamaica, rather than someone from the Eastern Cape.
“I want people from the Eastern Cape to make an Eastern Cape festival,” he said.
However, festival head of talent Roysten Cloete said Megafest would have a mini-stage on which the talents of local artists would be showcased.
“We have a list of potential artists from the department of arts and culture because we really wanted to avoid this [reprimands from local artists],” Cloete said.
In the past few years the city has not enjoyed a good track record when it comes to international music concerts and festivals. In 2009 livid fans streamed out of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as the main act of the Bay Summer Concert, rapper Busta Rhymes, arrived late and did not even perform.
Later that year the Nelson Mandela Bay International Music Festival which was to showcase artists such as Keri Hilson was cancelled due to lack of funds.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday April 21, 2012.