Ampitheatre ban KOs music promoters

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council’s decision to ban musical shows at the popular Bulawayo Amphitheatre has seen promoters struggling to find a venue to host high profile gigs in the country’s second city.

The city fathers pulled the plug on shows at the hugely liked Amphitheatre last year after residents living near the venue complained endlessly about the noise and chaos that ensued every time there were shows.

A total of 65 bookings running for six months, between June and December last year, which include musical shows, were cancelled.

But the decision has left music promoters at sea.

Promoters now believe it’s now expensive to hold a show in the city following the ban on one of their favourite venues.

International artistes and local crowd pullers such as Jah Prayzah, Winky D and Alick Macheso have, since the ban, found it difficult to return to the second largest city as a result.

Since releasing his album, Kutonga Kwaro, Jah Prayzah has not been to the city and will only be making an appearance at the end of the month in a highly-anticipated gig at the Hartsfield Stadium, after 2 Kings Entertainment took a gamble on the venue.

2 Kings Entertainment promoter Terminator Makoni said ever since the ban was effected, the city has suffered entertainment wise.

“People in Bulawayo are now starved of real outdoor entertainment and it’s all because of one complaining new resident.

“Imagine for over two decades the place had been the home of all music gurus. Where were these complaining residents all these years and why is one resident allowed to block revenue to council?

“With that ill-timed move BCC is losing thousands which would have gone into its coffers.

“One day’s booking costs between $700 and $1 000 depending on the number of hours booked,” said Makoni.

Gweru-based promoter Esau Hondora had no kind words for the Bulawayo City Council.

“I wonder what got into the minds of the city fathers. Do they ever realise how much they have killed the entertainment life in the city?

“We have since the time of the ban failed to bring the artistes because it’s now expensive to do so.

“To my surprise they say Hartsfield or White City Stadium is available, are they telling us that there are other residents who are more equal than others, because around those venues there are residential areas very close for that matter,” Hondora told Southern News.

South Africa-based music promoter Phakama Nkomo of Underground Entertainment said he had to withdraw his plans after realising how unreasonable it was to hold shows in the city.

“Music promotion is business and there are a lot of things that come into factor, so from the information that I got I had no option but to look for elsewhere to take my shows,” Nkomo said.

Hartsfield Stadium is considered as one of the optional venues but promoters have complained about the need for hiring a big number of security personnel.

The owners of the stadium don’t accept crowds in the stadium itself meaning promoters resort to using the open space behind the terraces.

As for Large City Hall which could be the suitable venue both in terms of convenience and set up, it has been described by most promoters as too expensive.

The City Hall car park was thought to be a good venue until Jamaican Busy Signal’s gig ended in violence as well as poor turnout that characterised the venue on international shows.

Queens Sports Club is also one venue promoters prefer but it has to be booked well in advance as it also hosts cricket matches.

As for the hockey stadium, those who run it reportedly don’t allow more than 1 000 fans into the venue and besides the fans will have to stick to the terraces and avoid the expensive turf, making it difficult if not impossible to host a show there.

When the BCC announced last year that they had shut the Bulawayo Amphitheatre, many thought it was a temporary measure that would be rescinded later.

According to the city fathers, consistent complaints by residents around the venue left them with no option but to prioritise residents who are ratepayers who bring in more revenue than shows which happen once in a while.

Shows particularly those featuring crowd pullers Winky D, Jah Prayzah and Macheso were cited as some of those which disturbed peace and brought chaos.

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