Event promoters here have agreed to establish an umbrella body to lobby on their behalf, and to liaise with Government to help create a more enabling environment in which to thrive.
The decision to form the Entertainment Association of Barbados was taken at a meeting last evening with Minister of Culture and the Creative Economy John King, at which the Crop Over festival was a key agenda item.
They have already established a steering committee comprising Rudy Maloney, Jeremy Nicholls, Eleanor Rice, Bryan Worrell and Ruel Ward, whose first order of business is to prepare a report on short and medium-term challenges which impact on their success as entrepreneurs, to be presented to the minister before the end of the Crop Over season.
The committee is also charged with working with the ministry after the festival, to enhance Barbados’ competitiveness as a quality entertainment destination.
“We had a very fruitful discussion and I look forward to working with the promoters of all of our Crop Over events. Both sides were very happy with what was discussed. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised in the near future with what we are going to do for the festival,” King told Barbados TODAY following the 90-minute meeting at his Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St Michael office.
“It is really about ensuring that Barbados gets the best out of their promoters and the promoters get the best out of the country. This is going to be a very fruitful relationship and Government is going to be an integral part in making sure that everybody goes forward and putting Barbados first,” he added.
Among those attending yesterday’s talks was Chetwyn Stewart, the president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders, who last week complained that last month’s general election had driven business to a virtual standstill, forcing him to pull his band, Power X4, from Grand Kadooment for the second year in a row.
Stewart had also told Barbados TODAY even though the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy would be removed effective July 1 this year, the repeal may not be in time to affect prices of costumes, some of which are as high as $2,000.
He also explained at the time that whether or not all of these factors would translate into a poorly patronized Crop Over season would depend on the marketing creativity of bandleaders and promoters.
However, while not suggesting there would be any changes to his own plans, he was bullish about the summer festival after yesterday’s meeting.
“It was a very interesting meeting and going forward it looks like things are going to happen. It was a productive meeting compared to a number of meetings I would have had before,” Stewart said.
Last year’s Grand Kadooment was marred by a shooting which left 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock dead and several others injured, including a six-year-old boy who was grazed by a bullet.
King said he remained concerned about possible acts of violence during the season, stressing it was something that needed to be addressed.
“That is always a concern of mine, not only as Minister of Culture, but as a father and a former social worker. But those are things that we are going to have to deal with,” the minister stated.
“Under culture we can do our part in terms of getting people to understand that every single individual in Barbados has value. It doesn’t matter which class you are from,” he stressed.