How Soul Fill Up with Franco Will Contribute to the Economy

From the artists to catering and waste management, the economics wobble on a knife’s edge between glorious success and bankruptcy. Even so, the spill-over eff ects of this festival are likely to have a stronger impact on the rest of the economy, writes GOSEGO MOTSUMI.

There is a saying in economics that, “if it is not measurable, it does not exist”. This is because economists need numbers, and so industries without data get ignored. This is the main reason why the arts have been overlooked for industries that count or can be counted. But the reality is music festivals such as Franco’s scheduled Soul Fill Up can be a lucrative business that creates jobs with spill-over effects on the rest of the economy. The stage, the music, the drinks, the people and the vibe all blend together to create not merely the perfect celebration but an ecosystem that feeds off from the music festival.

The National Stadium in Gaborone will come alive on 4 April when the King of kwasa-kwasa, Franco Lesokwane, will ignite his relevance before his legions of fans from all corners of the country. The much-anticipated event has already sold more than 4500 tickets but a budget of P1.5 million is needed to fill up the 23 000 capacity stadium. If the festival ticket priced at P100 each is sold to 20 000 people, which is the organiser’s aim, ticket sales alone could easily yield P2 million. However, this amount would not go directly to the promoters account because there is an entire ecosystem of service providers who stand to benefit from the music festival.

The organiser and spokesperson of the Soul Fill Up with Franco festival, Mogomotsi Moxx Gaolape, says while they are working around the clock to stage one of the biggest events in Botswana’s music history, turning an empty field into the best festival experience is a huge undertaking that can also be very costly. With an anticipated turnout of 20 000 patrons, the first beneficiary from the festival is the government for hiring out the National Stadium for approximately P250 000 after payment of which, at least half of this amount, the build-up to the festival takes off. This means setting up the infrastructure needed to support thousands of festival-goers, including erecting a stage, a sound system, lighting, hiring site security, and providing appropriate toilets and sanitation. This production stage, which is estimated, to cost about P400 000, according to Gaolape, will engage different private companies.

“Setting up a festival is a labour of love because we are currently funding everything from our pockets,” Gaolape explains. “We need sponsors. We have engaged a branding company that is also helping us financially to engage other service providers for the show to go on.”

The Soul Fill Up with Franco festival will feature a 100% local lineup of artists who don’t come cheap because festivals are among streams of income for artists who are always on the lookout for an opportunity to engage with their fans. This particular festival is also expected to attract people from across Botswana to the National Stadium. This means that the transport system, hotels and lodges for accommodation and vendors who will set up camp outside the stadium on the day will benefit from the festival.

Says Gaolape: “We will also need to engage security companies to ensure that people are safe on the day. We have empowered women who are supporting the Collect-a-Can initiative for cleaning up afterwards. The beverage industry is another beneficiary, the ticketing business and the festival crew. It’s a whole circle of service providers that will cash in around the festival.”

Usually the big question is where do all the festival gate-takings go? Hosting a festival isn’t as simple as merely putting a music band in front of a crowd. A chunk of the money is taken from what patrons paid even before the promoters take their share. Usually the Copyright Society of Botswana collects a certain percentage of the money owed to songwriters for performances of their songs during the festival. This isn’t to say running a festival isn’t lucrative, but the economics behind setting up a festival is a wobble on a knife-edge between glorious success and bankruptcy.