Owners of struggling Grand Kadooment bands must take responsibility for their own survival and stop looking to Government for bailouts, Minister of Culture and the Creative Economy John King has warned.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY ahead of next week’s climax of the annual Crop Over festival, King said even though his ministry was prepared to lend a helping hand wherever it could, there was a need for a more business-like approach by the bandleaders themselves.
“This is a conversation that we are going to need to have as soon as this season is over. At some point in time if we are going into business we must make allowances for change,” King said, explaining that “if I am an artiste and I realize that I am not getting the crowds I used to get, then I must re-examine my approach, which would include a second look at my target market and how I price the band.
“I have to prepare for the taxes associated with purchasing equipment, otherwise I would always be saying that I can’t make it,” he added in light of recent cries from several band leaders that this year was shaping up to be the worst Grand Kadooment ever.
Among them, veteran costume designer Betty West, who said recently that this year was the worse she had experienced in her 27 years in the business.
“This year everything has been slower. I find that people are a little restless with spending their money and I am experiencing quite a bit of difficulty where sponsorship is concerned,” West had stated at the time.
“The cost to bring a seven-section band, which caters to 350 people, has gone up from $90,000 to $125,000. I feel that in my 27 years of doing this I have not experienced what I am currently experiencing,” she added.
The cry was the same from Anthony Layne of Yello Kontact and perennial Band of the Year winner, Gwyneth Squires, who also reported depressed sales, poor sponsorship and a possible reduction in the number of bands taking to the streets for the Crop Over climax.
However, King said his Government, which was swept to power in the May 24 general elections, was doing its best within the context of stringent economic conditions.
Therefore, while big plans are in the pipeline for the cultural industry, he has cautioned stakeholders that the desired changes cannot be implemented overnight.
“People believe that when you come to Government you can wave a magic wand and make things happen, but it doesn’t work like that. In the meantime, these bands must do what is necessary for the good of their businesses until Government can put these processes in place,” King, a former calypsonian, stressed.