Stakeholders in the Crop Over Festival seem set to receive a reasonable and fair increase in prize money.
Without revealing what the increases would be, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, said the constituents had been sensitive to the economic climate in Barbados and they were both reasonable and understanding in their requests.
Mr. Lashley told reporters at a press conference today that "while we have not been able to give them all that they have asked for, we have certainly recognised their needs and through collaboration and dialogue between these stakeholders and the National Cultural Foundation, we have been able to grant some level of relief to them.
"So, we have met them a part of the way and we feel we have come to the point of agreement where we can move that particular issue forward," he stated.
The Minister said the Pic-O-De Crop Finals and Cohobblopot would again be held at Kensington Oval this year, while the Sweet Soca Competition would have a semi-final component which would be judged in a party atmosphere. He explained that this move was in response to the stakeholders’ request for an opportunity to perform before an audience prior to the finals at Bushy Park. "Arrangements are currently being finalised to have the semi-finals take place at one of the fetes which will be held during the lead up to the Festival," he pointed out.
Some of the other changes to the festival include the revision of the methodology for judging the Tune of the Crop and the inclusion of a two-week period between the Pic-O-De-Crop semi-finals and finals.
Mr. Lashley explained that initiative was in direct response to a call from the calypsonians for more time to prepare for the finals. He continued: "It will also give the NCF more time to market the finals and the radio stations more time to play the music of the finalists so the patrons can become more familiar with it."
He, therefore, called on the radio stations to play more Crop Over music. "Once they play the music it means that it will add to the excitement of the festival and the amount of earnings that our calypsonians make from royalties. By doing this, rather than playing foreign music, it keeps that vital foreign exchange in Barbados. There are many calypsos that are produced every year as part of the Crop Over Festival, but the only thing that is missing to me is more airplay of our calypsos. So, I want to encourage our radio stations to come on board early. We are making efforts to make sure the music and the competitions begin early, so we are asking you to play the music of our calypsonians," he urged.
Mr. Lashley promised that he would soon meet with representatives of all stakeholder groups to ensure their new and improved relationship with the National Cultural Foundation continued.
During the lead up to the Festival, three mini kadooments will be held by the communities – tomorrow at 1:00 a.m. at the bottom of Holders Hill, St. James; in St. Andrew on May 28 and in St. Peter on June 20. Cavalcades will also be held at Briar Hall, Christ Church; Checker Hall, St. Lucy; King George V Memorial Park, St. Philip and the National Stadium, St. Michael.