It will not be business as usual this Crop Over when it comes to fetes, shows and other related events.
In a change to what obtained over the years, private promoters and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) have come together to “protect”, promote and offer patrons the ultimate Crop Over experience.
The announcement was made Thursday night at a mix and mingle hosted by the NCF at Sweetfield Manor, where both NCF chief executive officer Carol Roberts-Reifer and South Central Entertainment and Baje International’s Richard Haynes spoke about it.
Roberts said to applause that as CEO of the NCF, “the days of marketing Crop Over events as an us and them venture have to end, and I would like to think that it ends tonight”.
She said she felt strongly that whether state or privately organised, there were all events of the festival and should be marketed as such.
In urging those gathered to promote each other’s events, she said there is a Crop Over Calendar with several major events and fetes which would be pushed “to the ends of the globe and tell people to come home for Crop Over, or come to Barbados for Crop Over”.
“The NCF has a key role to play in preserving the heritage, the culture, and there is a way to do that by encouraging you to also get on board and make sure that your events are very slickly produced [and] can stand up against events in the world. But at the end of the day the patron at the event knows upfront this is a Bajan event.
“So how can we make our festival uniquely Bajan and so special because we are an expensive carnival, we are an expensive festival? So how can we position our carnival in such a way that people don’t mind the additional expense because they know that when they come, they’re getting a unique Barbadian experience. The only way we can pull that off is if we do it together,” she said, noting that Crop Over fell “near the bottom in terms of the dates” with only the Grenada carnival coming after.
The CEO challenged promoters and her team at the NCF “to produce a uniquely authentic Barbadian experience for the people who live here and take part in the festival and the thousands upon thousands of visitors” who come to participate.
In his remarks, Haynes commended the state agency for its vision in bringing the private promoters together in a social setting.
He said: “We’re all in this thing together so we all know for sure that Crop Over is alongside Trinidad, one of the mega carnivals in the world. But don’t take it for granted because there’s lots and lots of competition out there”.
The event, he emphasised, was “about us unifying, coming together, not just the NCF but collectively so we can protect our festival.
“ ‘Cause mark my words, if we lose Crop Over, the negative impact on Barbados would be significant. …It’s not just jobs for us the promoters, the artists and the DJs, we’re talking about the ripple effect in terms of taxi drivers, the shop owners, people that sell in the bars, the restaurants, the drinks people, like [RMJ’s] Ricky Nurse and [others].
“Almost everybody in Barbados is positively impacted by Crop Over. So it is critically important that we protect our festival and the way we’re going to do this guys is by unifying, coming together under one solid message,” he said. (GBM)