Months before the start of the Crop Over Festival, some calypsonians are up in arms over proposed changes to the 2019 Pic-O-De-Crop competition.
At a meeting held by officials from the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) at the West Terrace office last night Crop Over stakeholders were on hand to hear of several changes to this year’s festival including the abandonment of the Pic-O-De-Crop semifinals.
A source who attended the meeting told Barbados TODAY that the NCF’s new Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts revealed that along with the scrapping of the semis, calypsonians would now sing two songs at the preliminary judging for a chance at the finals at which only one song will be delivered for judging.
The number of finalists has also been increased from nine to 17, while the prize money has also been raised, with the winner having the option of either receiving $100 000 cash or a vehicle.
However, a major bone of contention for several calypsonians has been the NCF’s decision to implement the changes without proper consultation with them. They have also questioned the timing of the changes and are contending that the NCF could have communicated with them much earlier.
The source admitted to Barbados TODAY that while they had been informed last December by NCF officials that alterations would be coming to the summer festival, they were not expecting the news to come three months later.
Also, the source claimed that the NCF had made it clear that the new changes were not up for debate.
“How is it that the calypsonians, who are the ones that will be most affected by these changes have not been consulted? Yes there was a meeting in December, but three months later you’re going to come with all of these changes that are set in stone?” the source asked.
“There was very little input from the calypsonians and the majority of them are not very happy about it.”
While he no longer sings competitively, veteran calypsonian Adonijah said he too was concerned by the perceived lack of consultation with his fellow calypsonians.
He said while he did not attend last night’s meeting, from what he had been told, they were not happy.
“If no input came from the calypsonians I would be disappointed because calypsonians are stakeholders too,” he said.
A tent manager who asked not to be identified told Barbados TODAY while they had no real problems with the new-look competition, the axing of the semifinals was a real concern.
The manager said the NCF made the decision to move from preliminary judging straight to the finals because the entity was operating at a big loss as a result of hosting the semifinals.
“Change is inevitable and sometimes you have to let some things happen to see if they will work or not and to see what benefits there are and who will benefit.
“The NCF has said this is what will happen and we can’t do anything about it,” the manager said, while revealing that even though stakeholders had made suggestions at the meeting last December, the majority of the changes had been decided by the NCF.
“Personally, I like the semis because it gives people an opportunity to see how calypsonians performed to get into the finals. Removing it takes away a large component of the competition.”
A 2018 finalist, Colin Spencer said his only major concern was the fact that two songs would be judged at the preliminary stage, but only one song could be performed at the finals.
“If it’s one song at the finals then it should be one song for judging as well. I don’t want to waste my songs if only one is going to be needed in the finals,” Spencer explained, while disclosing that his songs had been chosen since last October.
Another calypsonian, Jude Heehaw Clarke said he could not comment on the proposed changes as he had not yet heard any official notice from the NCF.
However, he said he planned to perform regardless of the changes.
“Whatever the changes are I will be ready to sing. I love what I do and I will continue to perform.
Barbados TODAY reached NCF CEO Carol Roberts for comment just after 7 p.m and she declined.