Government’s management of the recently concluded Crop Over festival has failed to impress the Opposition People’s Party for Democratic Development (PDP).
In fact, party spokesman on culture and the creative economy Allan Springer accused Government of unnecessarily making changes to the festival, thereby resulting in a loss of focus.
“Unwarranted tinkering saw Crop Over lose some of its flavour and its sense of direction, while the theme More than a carnival did not actually materialize. Crop Over remained substantively a carnival jamboree for three months of the year,” said Springer.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference held in the Opposition offices at Parliament Buildings this morning, Springer contended that organisers failed miserably in the mission to introduce changes that would make the festival stand apart from carnivals across the region.
“Last year the Minister of Culture told us that, the Crop Over festival could be in line for some major changes come 2019. This presumably meant there was some understanding that Crop Over too much resembles one big carnival, hence this led to the Crop Over 2019 theme More Than a Carnival, said Springer.
He further argued, “The Crop Over 2019 calendar listed 77 different events in total from May to August. Of these, 68 events had a carnival theme of one kind or another. Leaving just nine events that did not have a carnival theme, and one of the more popular non-carnival events, the Folk Concert, did not run at all. This leaves some serious questions to be answered.”
The Opposition spokesperson also took aim at a number of changes made to the festival by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), which included the merger of the Sweet Soca and Power Soca competitions but which also extended to efforts to refresh and rebrand components of the festival, as well as the format of the Crop Over finale, Grand Kadooment.
Springer noted the discontent among several of the artistes with the new Soca Monarch competition format, noting that the minister’s rationale for the single competition did not add up.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY last month, King contended that a split competition only resulted in one category cannibalizing the other.
King argued, “Over the years the audiences have been complaining that the Power Soca songs have not been of a very high standard and people were saying that they were only coming to hear the Sweet Soca songs. So, you have to make a decision as to what is in the best interest of your constituents and the artistes just have to be able to listen to their constituents and not just think in a one-dimensional way. It is not just about them but also the people who pay their money to come to see them to ensure that they have a competition.”
“I don’t think that this is a vey strong argument because even Mikey, who won with a Power Soca song, actually said that he preferred a split competition. For example, none of us would expect Lover’s Rock to be in a competition with Dancehall or Bashment. They are just totally different genres. So, I think the same applies to the Soca competition, we can’t fairly judge a competition where the genres are just so different,” he contended.
Apart from the party events, the PDP is also of the view that the cultural aspect of the festival suffered as a result of the changes.
“Dissecting the Bridgetown Market to create a Cultural Village resulted in much reduced business at the traditional Bridgetown Market, a slack that was not picked-up at the new Cultural Village, making both spaces quite dysfunctional. And why was it called Cultural Village in the first place, when in fact its purpose was for the sale of arts and crafts? This confusion over the use of terminology is an ongoing concern,” said Springer.
He added, “The cultural village for the most part resembled a ghost town, leaving dissatisfied creatives to complain about not being consulted. The ‘chattel houses’ were overpriced and were more like cramped little boxes, and there was no marketing nor organized activities to ensure a flow of customers.”