In the absence of a definitive position from Government, at least one major fete promoter has pulled the plug on its event for this year’s Crop Over celebrations and it appears many others could soon follow.
In fact, if a final decision isn’t taken soon, many fear they could lose hundreds of thousands amid the uncertainty of a raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Early Monday morning, Twisted Entertainment announced that its July 19 Tipsy All White Beach Party would be postponed until November 22 triggering the immediate cancellation of the organisation’s November BimTipsy event.
Communications Specialist Tracy Highland explained the decision was not based on any consultation with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and stressed that the health and safety of patrons was the deciding factor.
“Everybody is looking at what is happening, how to make the best of this situation and what is the safest thing for patrons, entertainers and everybody involved and in this case we decided to push the event back to later in the year, because there is a lot of uncertainty. Nobody knows what is actually going to happen, but it is a safer bet if we push it back,” Highland told Barbados TODAY.
The PR specialist explained that despite some financial losses, the artistes including headliner Kes The Band have been extremely supportive and understanding.
In the meantime, organisers have turned their attention to hosting virtual parties on their social media platforms as well as initiatives to tangibly assist persons economically displaced by the ongoing crisis.
Elsewhere in the industry, however, the NCF has been heavily criticised for leaving stakeholders in the lurch as government agencies in other Caribbean countries make decisions on the future of their summer festivals.
Orlando Newton, the promoter of Rise Barbados told Barbados TODAY he is waiting another “week or two” before cancelling the July 29 event.
The industry veteran added that he was hoping to receive a directive of some sort from authorities on the way forward given the tremendous amount of capital spent in advance to ensure the success of his premium event.
“We’re still waiting on them [NCF] and hoping that they reach out to the promoters for consultation to determine if they plan to move it to another date so we can prepare ourselves,” said Newton, who is also the CEO of digital sales platform, TicketPal.
“These ventures are capital intensive and if you’re spending as much as 40 per cent of your expenditure before you even open the doors of an event, you could be in a lot of trouble right about now,” he added.
Tremayne Austin, the promoter of Awaken Ultra Premium All Inclusive Event, has halted further spending on his June 20 party as he eagerly awaits word from authorities. He has also been dreading the economic fallout which might occur if there is no festival and has welcomed the possibility of postponing celebrations until later in the year.
“From an economic standpoint, Barbados is not ready for a year with no festival. If adjustments have to be made for a festival or series of events to happen later in the year, I am all for it,” he added while calling for urgent dialogue with authorities.
NCF Chairman Glyne Harrison said that such decisions would be taken at the level of the Minister of Creative Economy and Sports, John King. However, efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.
“The Minister will give his guidance in due time but like everyone else, we are cognisant that it is a fluid situation and that the focus in the country is around how we will get past COVID-19 and as an organisation, we are focused on how we can contribute to that. But comments on the festival should be directed to the ministry through the minister,” Harrison told Barbados TODAY.
Meanwhile, 4D Entertainment, the promoters of Soca on De Hill have already invested heavily in artistes and venues, but director Rudy Maloney is content to “wait and see”, as health officials grapple with key decisions to navigate the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.
Maloney has been in talks with the NCF on the way forward, though he was unwilling to go into detail about the discussions.
“Personally, I believe the safety of patrons is very important and we should be guided by the relevant ministries to see what will be the outcome,” he said when asked about the possibility of new dates for Crop Over.
“Yes, you can work towards a date but it doesn’t mean it would be realistic,” he added. [email protected]
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