State May Not Finance GEM Fest 2018

The Georgian Electronic Music Festival (GEM Fest) might not be funded from the state budget next year.

The information was released by the Minister of Economy of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia, who believes that it would be a "bad idea" to finance the festival in future.

“Tourism support will continue in 2018, but my position is that the electronic music festival GEM Fest should not be state-funded again," Gakharia said.

He added that the project Check in Georgia will most likely continue, but there will be serious discussion as to its effectiveness.

"The participation of the private sector has significantly increased in this project. Our task is simple: to reduce state funding and increase the participation of the private sector in this and other similar programs," he said.

Giorgi Sigua, the founder and the organizer of GEM Fest, claims the event is sure to take place in 2018, but with less funding.

“It is up to the State to finance our project or not. GEM Fest was created with private investment in 2015 and no state co-financing was had at that time. We, like many other projects, received state funding only after the Check in Georgia Project was launched in 2016,” he stated.

Sigua added that if state funding is removed from the picture, a smaller event will be organized than this year, which will last for 4-5 days instead of one month.

“GEM Fest will be planned and held regardless, whether we receive state funding or not,” he emphasized.

The month-long electronic music festival was held for the third time in Georgia from July 14 to August 14 in Georgia’s Black Sea town of Anaklia.

Despite the large number of world-famous artists and DJs, this year the festival experienced numerous problems, including the death of a 22-year old girl and poisoning of more than 20 others, allegedly due to psychoactive drug ‘Bio’ or Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which has been seen increasingly throughout Georgia of late.

Another problem was alleged financial violations during the festival, for which the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia launched an investigation in August.

Due to these financial issues, around 300 employees of the festival complained they had not received their salaries.

Sigua denied the allegations of embezzlement of festival funds, adding all employees would get paid.

He said he brought over 500 artists to perform at the festival, assuring media that the allocated state funds had been used to pay them as agreed with the State.

Thea Morrison

09 October 2017 16:13