There is growing optimism among local promoters and entertainers about the possibility of producing some aspects of the Crop Over festival online including a Soca Monarch Competition or similar event with a different name.
Local entertainer Jamal Slocombe, who has partnered with local companies MarNiko media, Trident 10 TV and Chattel House Caribbean revealed that promoters, artistes and other entertainers are keen to host numerous private events on their online platforms.
Meanwhile, popular producer Peter Coppin has signalled his intention to host an online soca competition and is hoping to attract the buy-in of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF).
Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King confirmed that numerous event proposals have been landing on his desk. While pledging his moral support to the efforts, King stressed that Government had already made a decision on the annual festival and any changes to that arrangement would have to be planned and led by the private sector.
“These just aren’t normal times, so everything you do, you have to consider the consequences. You have to ask yourselves whether you have the money to spend on the events and competitions that people may want. Those are all things that must be weighed in the balance to determine what we can get involved in and what we can’t,” the culture Minister explained.
He, however, added: “Crop Over is the people’s festival, and therefore if people are willing to do stuff and hold competitions, there is nobody to stop you or cause any problems.”
Slocombe told Barbados TODAY his partners have reached out to numerous private sector entities for further support in producing an array of events that would feature soca artistes, calypsonians and even comedians to bring “upliftment” to Barbadians.
“We are focusing less on the events held by the NCF and are instead looking at what present promoters host for the Crop Over festival,” said Slocombe, who said he has been engaging President of Barbados Association of Calypsonians and Artistes (BACA) Sean Apache Carter, as well as Paul Clarke – President of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries who have all been supportive.
“It will allow Barbadians at home, Barbadians abroad and Barbadians by choice to have the opportunity to celebrate with us. So we are just creating a hub where people can celebrate during what traditionally would have been Crop Over,” he explained.
Coppin meanwhile indicated that his idea of hosting a soca monarch competition would showcase the work of an array of artistes still making music despite the impact of COVID-19 on traditional performances.
But unlike Slocombe, Coppin is adamant that the rollout of such a massive competition would require infrastructural assistance from the state.
“If we want to go forward with a competition that is similar to the Party Monarch, I will need to find a building that is large enough to accommodate a socially-distanced band to back the artistes. That is just one example,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He explained that the proposed event would see local artistes advance through numerous stages based primarily on an online voting system, followed by a Soca Monarch final featuring the ten most successful contestants.
“This is a new era and even if Crop Over comes next year, I still think that the Internet will play a massive role. Obviously, you can’t beat a live event, but we need to continue to experiment with how the public perceives these events,” he stressed.
If Coppin’s bid with local authorities fails to materialize, the producer has pledged to continue using electronic platforms to promote local music.
While it is still unclear how the promoters intend to earn money from the events, Minister King suggested a simple model that could be used to attract revenue.
“If a particular artist or artists are featured in concert and a meagre sum of $2 is charged to gain access to the platform, in two twos, over a million people may be logged and just like that, you have earned two million dollars with no overheads at all,” he suggested.
“From the ministry’s perspective, we already revealed our plans for the year and we will have to stick to our plans…but if people want to do all of these things, I would gladly support it. But that would require speaking to the entire cabinet, and advisors in the ministry,” the Minister added.