In order to get “Crop Over correct” the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has embarked on a number of cost-cutting measures.
As a result of dwindling numbers and rising costs of some marquee events, such as the Pic-O-De-Crop, Soca Monarch and Pan Weekend, chief executive officer Carol Roberts-Reifer suggested these changes were necessary.
The changes include the combining of the sweet soca and party songs into a new Soca Monarch final, the removal of the semi-final leg from the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, and the requirement of the calypsonians to perform one song on Finals night.
Dissatisfaction During a sponsors’ reception at Ilaro Court on Friday, Roberts-Reifer said that as far back as 2017 the NCF expressed dissatisfaction about the turnouts at Pic-O-De-Crop events. She revealed that last year fewer than 900 people attended the Semi-finals and fewer than 4 000 were at the Finals.
“We decided when we began to look at the festival that we needed to do two things: tighten the cost . . . [and] bring the sparkle back to the Pic-O-De-Crop, what was the jewel in the crown of Crop Over past . . . . One song means one presentation, one set of backups and one of everything else,” she said.
This year, in response to complaints from previous winners who had difficulties selling their vehicle, the monarch can choose between an X-Trail from Courtesy Garage and $100 000.
Last year Pic-O-De-Crop monarch Anderson MrBlood Armstrong received $120 000 and $10 000 in cash, along with other prizes.
However, this year the prize for second place has been increased from $20 000 to $40 000. Roberts-Reifer made the comments in the presence of MrBlood, Party Monarch Mikey, and tent managers, including Sharon Carew-White of House Of Soca and Winston Alleyne from Super Gladiators.
The CEO said stakeholders were informed of the decisions, citing meetings from as far back as December.
The Soca Monarch contest has also been revamped even though it has attracted around 10 000 each year. Roberts-Reifer said one of the major criticisms has been the declining interest in Party Monarch songs. As a result, visits were made to several locations, including the Ermie Bourne Highway, where it began in 1995, before deciding on the National Botanical Gardens, Waterford, St Michael.
Members of Pompasetters performing on Friday night.
The Soca Monarch winner will receive a Mazda BT 50 from MQI. Minister of Information Lucille Moe also addressed the sponsors and said the changes were necessary because of stiff competition from other carnivals.
Another major NCF event is the Pan Weekend, which will be spread over three days, ending with Pan Pun De Sand. For this previously free event, those who are over 16 years old will have to pay $20 at the Pirates Cove venue. It will bring together talented musicians from schools and the region.
There will also be a revival of the Cavalcade concept. This year, there will be six free events called Bajarama at locations such as Belleplaine, St Andrew; Three Houses, St Philip; Dover, Christ Church; Friendship, St Michael; Bridgefield, St Thomas; and the NCF, St James. The CEO also hinted at changes to the Bridgetown Market but did not go into details. (TG)