Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley may not have any monetary relief to give to the Kadooment masquerade bands this year, but that does not mean he cannot meet with them to discuss their concerns.
“I always say that when we have issues we will sit down and work them out,” said Lashley, in an address to a thanksgiving service Sunday at the Vauxhall Methodist Church, heralding the start of the 2017 Crop Over season.
While conceding that this year’s Crop Over festival could not be considered trouble-free, he further promised to work with members of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM), who have been threatening to boycott this year’s grand climax.
“Over the past six years Crop Over has been controversy free, and even where we have issues we are able to solve them very quickly.
“This year of course we will continue to work in that direction. We value to contribution of all of our partners in the Festival,” the Government spokesman said.
BAM’s threat comes at the height of a stalemate with the festival’s organizers – the National Cultural Foundation – over demands for increased subventions and prize monies this year.
The association’s President Chetwyn Stewart has warned that his members are now “at the end of their tether”, having made a significant contribution to the festival over the years and seemingly getting nothing back from Government.
In response, Lashley, who is known to take part in the annual costume revelry, said he was prepared to do all in his power to resolve the concerns.
“I’m aware of the issues raised by the masqueraders, and we will certainly work with them in terms of solving any outstanding matters that they have.
“They are among our valued partners and we treat all our valued partners with tremendous respect,” he said, while giving the assurance that, “all issues raised will get the hearing not only of the NCF, but certainly of this minister, with a view, where we can, to resolve any outstanding issues.”