This year’s Crop Over Festival will see several significant changes being implemented by Government.
Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, made this disclosure recently during a press conference at his Ministry in Sky Mall.
According to the Minister, after a meeting with Crop Over stakeholders, namely the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM), it was concluded that there needed to be an increase in the subvention and prize money awarded for the festival. As a result, Mr. Lashley said his Ministry agreed to increase the current subvention by $50,000 and the prize money by $30,000.
He stated that he told BAM representatives at the meeting that he understood their plight., “…By and large, I believe that the masqueraders’ [request] is reasonable…We should be insuring that the stakeholders in the Festival believe and actually receive the kind of encouragement that is required for them to do what they have to do,” he stressed.
Additionally, while addressing members of the media, the Culture Minister declared that there will no longer be a King and Queen of the Crop. According to him, the titles were created from the traditional sugar cane harvesting methods.
“Over the years we’ve seen the changes; we’ve recognised now that there is hardly a single cane cutter who is out in the field…the changing face of the sugar cane harvest has really come to the fore,” he noted.
Instead of the King and Queen of the Crop titles, Mr. Lashley explained that there would now be a system of honours for those persons participating in the sugar cane harvest. He added that the National Cultural Foundation was in discussion with stakeholders to “actively” pursue an honoree system.
Grantley Hurley and Judy Cumberbatch, who were last year’s King and Queen of the Crop, have held those titles for well over a decade.