The Chewstick Foundation have announced that they have no choice but to cancel this year’s Good Friday KiteFest due to a lack confirmation from various government departments which has severely hampered the ability to seek adequate funding.  The Registered Charity inherited the Good Friday Kite Festival from the former UBP and were happy to add the event to its list of community events, and particularly pleased to be able to run the event outside of the shadow of a political party.  The Chewstick Foundation hosted quite the successful 2012 event, with primary financial support coming from the Department of Tourism.

However as of March 6, 2013, The Chewstick Foundation has not received confirmation from the Department of Parks in reference to their application to host the event at Horseshoe Bay Beach.  Chewstick Foundation Co-Founder and Community Events Planner Najib Chentouf said “The first step in planning this event is securing the venue, followed swiftly by sourcing adequate funding and infrastructure to make the event a success. The Chewstick Foundation submitted an application for a permit to hold the event to the Department of Parks in the Fall of 2012, and to date have not had any confirmation.  He also said that he had sent numerous emails to the Department without response and had placed countless calls, leaving voicemails and messages but has yet to make progress.

Mr. Chentouf stated that “It is with a heavy heart that we have come to make this decision, given the legacy of the Kite Festival at Horseshoe Bay, which has become an annual Bermudian Cultural Tradition for many years.” He further stated that, “There was a point where it seemed as though the election or change of government may have been slowing up processes but in truth, there should have been ample time to make the decisions under the previous government, and there has been ample time under the new government.  We cannot seek sponsorship, contract suppliers, vendors, and organize volunteers without knowing that we have secured the venue, that is key to the event. With less than a month to Good Friday and no formal response from the Department of Parks for the use of Horseshoe Bay, The Chewstick Foundation sees no way to successfully host the annual KiteFest Celebration. In the current economy where most companies are tightening their belt, successful fundraising requires talking to more sponsors and giving them the time to factor it into their budgets and calendars. Given all that Chewstick has on its plate, there simply isn’t the capacity to seek sponsorship, organize the event and ensure a quality product is delivered.”

“We’ve been alarmed at the overt non-responsiveness of certain staff at the Department of Parks.  We have been emailing various Parks staff since the Fall of 2012, and to date have yet to receive any response to those emails.” Mr. Chentouf continued. 

The Chewstick Foundation Executive Director, Gavin Djata Smith said, “ there also hasn’t been formal response from the Department of Tourism regarding a request for sponsorship” but clarified that Tourism support was not essential to the success of the event despite them providing the lion’s share of the funding to host last years event. He said “if we had confirmation from Parks with enough lead-time we could have sourced private sector funding.  At this point without the permit and necessary sponsorship our ability to move the event forward is impossible.”   

To ensure canceling the event never happens again, The Chewstick Foundation is actively seeking a long-term solution with Government agencies in order to avoid these challenges and effectively plan for years to come. But at this time that has yet to be achieved. In the meantime, The Chewstick Foundation encourages everyone enjoy the holiday and participate in the traditions of the season safely.