The downturn in the global economy has been hitting a number of institutions hard, forcing them to scale back on the levels of sponsorship they would normally pump into cultural events.
From the small promoters to the large, have suffered cutbacks, and the Government, more specifically the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has been one of the casualties, with its ever popular Cavalcades, which have been a staple of the festival ever since its introduction, being pulled from this year’s calendar.
One promoter, who wears many hats is Chetwyn Stewart. He is the chief executive of the Power X Four Kadooment band, a director of Mudslide Foreday band, and president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders.
“Things are tight all over the world. That is a reality. And one of the biggest setbacks for the bands and promoters is sponsorship. Sponsors were definitely cutting back from last year, and this year is going to be worse,” Stewart told Bajan Vibes recently as he sat down to talk about recent changes made to Crop Over 2014, more specifically Foreday Morning.
He noted that the NCF was not a promoter, but a Government organization.
“They have their mandate and stuff, but they can’t take risk like us.
“We can go and say . . . bring Machel [Montano], and we might risk $100,000, and if it works you gain, but if it loses . . . . They are not like that; so they are going to play it safe all the time. [But] playing it safe in this kind of market, when you’re competing with a lot of other things, you can’t,” he stressed, calling for some kind of injection to be made to get people out and attending the events.
“Some of the things I hear people saying like, ‘Man, I tired gine to the finals, because the same people winning all the time’, or ‘It is the same kinda show all the time’. Those are the kind of things to look at.”
The veteran bandleader explained to Bajan Vibes that by his calculations, one of the biggest problems Barbados as a destination faced was when visitors came to the island and said that they love Crop Over and the country, but there were not enough events.
“When we say events, not just the number of events, but there are not enough ‘quality events’ for them to go to, compared to the ones they go to overseas. We have to realize that with Crop Over now, it is not even people who travel, our local people, when they go on the Internet and they see the costumes overseas and they see the artistes overseas, they expect the same thing here, which I think is good too since it helps you to improve your product.
“Look at Power X Four. We do over 400 registered people from overseas, and a lot of them were coming for Crop Over . . . . We are not a Trinidad that has the big glamourous costumes, but we have certain elements that we can push.”