Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve??Blackett??

With memories of the Crop Over Festival still fresh in the minds of thousands of revellers and sponsors, Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, has challenged the organisers to take the festival to the next level.

He made this observation last Saturday night, while addressing the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) 2010 Crop Over Festival Kadooment Awards, at the Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial, Centre.

Emphasising that there was no room for complacency, Mr. Blackett warned that the festival must grow if it was to maintain its appeal among the masses. "We have no intention of resting on our laurels or being complacent.?? If the festival is to be sustained and not lose its appeal, then it must grow … it must evolve in response to the requirements of the society out of which it springs," he opined.

In keeping with this expectation, the Minister of Culture alluded to the establishment of the Festivals and Events Department within the NCF to assist Government in exploiting the economic spin-offs from the Festival.

Additionally, Mr. Blackett urged the stakeholders to strive for excellence at all times.?? "If we are to truly develop the economic potential of our cultural sector, we must all adhere to this continuous effort to achieve excellence.?? When we take our culture to the world, the quality can be nothing less than the highest."

He further stated: "If we are to encourage and to promote positive cultural development in Barbados, the same thing applies.?? We cannot sit idly by and shrug our shoulders helplessly when negative and destructive elements creep into our culture.?? It is not likely that a perfect culture exists anywhere except in the mythical Utopia, but we have to make sure that we highlight and push the positive elements, while speaking out against the negative ones."

The Minister also lashed out at persons who criticise all aspects of the festival.?? "I sit at my desk or drive along in my car and hear the many negative comments being spewed from the mouths of the "armchair critics and the know-it-alls" in this country.?? Seldom during the season, do you hear a single word of encouragement for these tireless and dedicated professionals found within the walls of the Foundation," he pointed out.

Mr. Blackett congratulated the staff of the NCF, the band leaders, the revellers, calypsonians and other participants, for their efforts in making the season a success.

During the event, a number of awards were presented in the categories of General Calypso and Grand Kadooment. However, Festival Designer of the Year, Renee Ratcliffe, walked away with the Coveted Robert Weekes Award among other prizes.

Reigning Calypso Monarch, Anthony "Mighty Gabby" Carter, was adjudged the Song writer of the Year.??jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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