There is corporate confidence in the Crop Over brand, but there is still a greater need for more sponsorship.
That is according to Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, as he addressed the media at the annual Crop Over Press Briefing today.
Speaking at his office in Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall this morning, Lashley said there needed to be a greater show of national responsibility from the private sector to ensure that the festival comes off.
“The NCF’s drive for sponsorship this year has been continuous . . . and while of course the drive has been impacted by the belt tightening in the corporate sector, we have seen sponsors increasing, while some others may adjust and so on.
“The season is yet young and we are very optimistic. There is still room and time to bring new partners on board. And therefore I believe this year should be seen as the year to increase your revenue by spending wisely and giving the NCF some sponsorship dollars,” he said.
The minister stressed that sponsorship could not be left up to the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), the main producers of the festival, to do it on their own.
“As I have often reiterated, the preservation of a festival of this magnitude cannot only be the responsibility of the Government. While I would nudge my colleague, the Minister of Finance, to ensure that the NCF and the festival gets its fair share of the national budget, I also recognize in deference to them, that it is not only a question for the Government to be responsible for the financing of the festival, it has to be a national responsibility and that’s why the private sector is so important,” he added.
The minister highlighted some of the increases and decreases in the festival, showing the importance of sponsorship and private sector involvement.
Lashley revealed that while in 2011 Crop Over saw an increase in sponsorship by $797,350 from the previous year, 2012 earned just $153,995 more than 2011.
Furthermore, he disclosed in 2013, the festival saw a decline in sponsorship of $118,838. He said, though, this was due in part to the sponsorship of $100,000 for Cohobblopot, which went to a private promoter.
“In 2014 we increased our sponsorship by $388, 882 which demonstrates corporate confidence in the Crop Over brand. We are not talking about a festival that has now ‘come to town’; we are talking about a festival that has grown phenomenally and the focus should be on growing Crop Over even more,” Lashley explained.
He stressed that while the festival organizers were working on a tight budget, they were moving aggressively to ensure that the festival could be properly executed.
Lashley also said the organizers were looking to forge stronger ties with the Barbados Tourism Management Inc (BTMI) to help expand the festival.
“We have been asking our partners in the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc to put some of that sponsorship money in Crop Over,” he noted.
“I still believe that we will try to engage with them a bit more, but it is going to be very important that at the level of tourism, there is some greater injection of funds from the BTMI into Crop Over . . . .
“We have talked to them and they have agreed to have some additional funds but, of course, I have asked them if they could delve a bit more,” he said.