Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, says that changes might be coming to govern the way fetes are held around Crop-Over.
“Crop-Over happens once a year and brings immense economic benefit to our country. It must therefore be allowed to occur within an atmosphere of tolerance and togetherness. While being ever conscious of the need for reasonableness to prevail in the staging of Crop-Over fetes, I am convinced that some changes will have to be made to the regulations governing the holding of Crop-Over fetes to ensure that the system does not act as a hindrance to promoters.
“At the same time, safeguards must be built into the system to control abuse and protect persons in the enjoyment of their private spaces. I can say that one of the options being looked at is an on-line application process for fete promoters,” he said while addressing the 2012 Crop-Over Awards Ceremony at the Frank Collymore Hall on Saturday night.
He also spoke about the success of the Festival and noted that while some people might be “tempted to define success in terms of the number of tickets sold, titles won, or even the quantum of prize monies”, he had another yardstick for the measurement of its success.
“I am of the view that these successes came about primarily as a result of the close collaboration between the National Cultural Foundation and its stakeholders, a collaboration which started even before the official launch of Crop-Over 2012 in November last year.
“I am sure that you will agree that our stakeholder meetings were well received and extremely productive. Armed with the recommendations and suggestions emanating therefrom, the ministry and the foundation were able to address the issue of re-packaging the festival in such a way as to satisfy as many of our constituents as possible.
“The details of the various initiatives are well known, but broadly speaking, they included the further decentralisation of Crop-Over, the development of attractive and viable heritage activities, an increase in prize monies across the board, as well as a much improved infrastructure for Bridgetown Market.
“I think that I can safely say that the introduction of heritage activities in recognition of our newly inscribed World Heritage property were among the most popular of the innovations for 2012.
“There was, for instance, an impressive turn-out for the First Citizens Bridgetown by Night Heritage Tour. This tour provided an opportunity for Barbadians and visitors of all ages to enjoy and to experience Bridgetown in a new way. They learned of its grandeur in times past, and were entertained with stories of the activities of its colourful and far from boring citizens,” he said.
Lashley noted the other events such as the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited’s Heritage Lecture and Tour, Central Bank of Barbados Crop-Over Visual Arts Festival, produced in association with Republic Bank, and the Hilton Barbados Crop-Over Heritage Feast, stating they featured unforgettable displays of high quality local art and cuisine.
He commended the sponsors for getting involved in the national festival and said that without their invaluable support, the NCF and the Ministry of Culture “would find it very difficult to ensure the continued growth and diversity which is needed to keep our festival alive and appealing”. He called on other businesses to rethink their position.
“Those who however benefit from the festival but choose not to invest in it need to rethink this approach, particularly when it has now become very necessary for us to pay more attention to the protection of the intellectual property rights of the festival and ensure that these rights are respected by everyone.”
The minister singled out the “two stars of the Crop-Over festival — Grantley Hurley, 2012 King of the Crop and Judy Cumberbatch, 2012 Queen of the Crop — saying that “too often, we fail to understand and to acknowledge the true significance of the contribution of these individuals.
“While ‘King Sugar’ may no longer play the dominant role in our society that it once did, the spirit of pride and industry that these two persons represent should neither be forgotten nor underestimated. They embody the hard work and the sacrifices that Barbadians of yesterday contributed to the development of this nation. For a large number of us, they represent the hard work and sacrifices that our parents and grandparents made so that we, today, could be free, independent and enjoy one of the highest standards of living anywhere in the world.
“It was out of the realities of the lives of these hard-working Barbadians, that the Crop-Over festival emerged. It was the one time of the year when they could a semblance of relaxation and be carefree,” he said.
The minister congratulated the artists who participated awardees which included RPB, “for dedicating 30 years of your life to entertaining us, Mikey, who made history with his clean sweep of four competitions, Aisha Mandisa Butcher, to Jazz ‘Jazz-Z’ Gittens and to Aziza Lil Az Clarke, and veteran Gwyneth Squires as she celebrates 27 years as a band leader of both Junior Kadooment and Grand Kadooment bands.
He stated he was “confident that Crop-Over is in good hands”. (DS)