Even before the staff and other cultural stakeholders crunch numbers and analyse whether Crop-Over 2013 was a success or not, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley is already calling it.
In recapping his favourite events on the calender during an interview with Barbados TODAY at the National Stadium today, he said that an increase in the number was a positive step in the direction he hopes to take the festival.
“The pan has always been a favourite for me. Pan Fusion and this year we were innovative by doing a twinning of Bridgetown and Speightstown with the pan. That was tremendous. It has shown us a tremendous opportunity for doing more of that. I’ve enjoyed the Soca Royale and certainly I had a great time at Foreday Mornin’.
“I go to practically all the events and this year I made a special effort to go to the non NCF events, a lot of the fetes. There is so much happening outside of the NCF events. This is helping us to generate a lot of great economic activity and as you know the Crop-Over Festival in its original design was to help to spur economic development and economic activity and my mission has been to grow that even further.
“We’re in difficult economic times and therefore what happens in Crop-Over is critical and I think we’ve succeeded in bringing huge amounts of visitors to Barbados. Next year, I’m sure the BTA and the Ministry of Tourism will have to work hard to ensure that we have much greater airlift because they were many persons who wanted to come to Barbados for Crop-Over but could not come here because they could not get airlift and I can guarantee you we’re going to grow this festival even bigger.
“So, I’m putting the tourism planners on notice that they have to get, and make sure we have the capacity by the plane loads of persons to come to Barbados. This festival really is, in my mind, one of the great opportunities for diversifying our economy, it has worked and there is so much potential for it. You’ve seen this year, even in the midst of recession, you’ve seen tremendous growth in Crop-Over and that is really a vote of confidence,” said the minister.
Lashley, who was among the hundreds of revellers in Power X 4’s band A Barrel of Fun 310, again congratulated the staff at the National Cultural Foundation who, he stated, “worked extremely hard to pull off a record in excess of 35 events, never in the history of Barbados you’ve had that and they’ve done all the events we’ve seen a sold out crowd”.
“Last night we saw the Cohobblopot, it was fantastic. We’ve partnered with the private sector this year and we’ve seen that that has paid off. We’re going to do the analysis but so far the reports are really, really great,” he added.
What he also noted was that the launching of the festival in November last year worked well.
“When Crop-Over ends, planning starts. You only get the launch of Crop-Over in November. It has worked tremendously because we’ve seen our sponsors come on board. Many of our corporate sponsors need the time to factor into their budgets the planning for Crop-Over. It has worked tremendously. We have seen a growth in sponsorship and I want to encourage more of corporate Barbados to invest in the festival. It translates to foreign exchange for Barbados and it translates to jobs, it translates to earnings for them as well. This really is an opportunity for them,” the minister stated.
He said that jumping on the recently laid track “has been great”.
“You can see there is no damage. I did say initially that this track is very resilient and I think our revellers have actually obeyed our rules. I have jumped on it and certainly I haven’t seen anything done to it and I’ve had great fun for the morning,” he said.
What can we expect for the 40th anniversary of Crop-Over which will be celebrated next year?
“We’re going to do some dynamic things. You’re going to see a much bigger festival. We’re going to look perhaps at some of our key venues and have them open from the beginning of Crop-Over throughout. One of the things we’re looking at is Spring Garden we want to open that up continuously because our patrons want activity. We’re looking at special legislation, similar to the Cricket World Cup, sunset legislation to ensure that we can have a much more user friendly festival. One that is more facilitatory and one that people can actually go and have clean fun.
The minister also “saluted” the Royal Barbados Police Force saying “they have really supported the festival”.
“We’ve had minimal incidents and we’re we’ve had them they have responded swiftly and dealt with them. I also want to say to the Barbadian public, they really should take a bow. They have come to the events they have behaved well. We’ve had a few incidents but they were dealt with. By and large we’ve had a very well behaved Barbadian public and I really want to salute them on it,” he stated. [email protected]