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Saturday, September 9, 2017 Hilton, Aquatic Gap, St.Michael, Barbados.
Crop Over Awards
Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Hon. Stephen Lashley ( at left in photo above ) remarked during his Feature Address that “ Crop Over 2017 was a good year for masquerade. There was an increase in subventions for the bandleaders, an increase in prize monies and for the first time, an inclusion of a prize vehicle for the Festival Designer of the Year. This was won by Kevin Small of Fifth Element ” ( pictured above centre - red Jacket ) while at extreme right is Ms. Maureen Graham, Chairman of the Board of the National Cultural Foundation . And in front of the is the many Trophies won by Mr.Kevin Small, who is expected to be receiving his Vehicle, a Mazda 2 on Wednesday September 13, 2017.
Minister of Culture, Sports & Youth
Hon. Stephen Lashley
Crop Over Award Ceremony
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Mrs. Ruth Blackman, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and other Ministry Officials;
Ms. Maureen Graham, Chairman of the Board of the National Cultural Foundation and other members of the Board of the NCF;
Mr. Wayne Webster, Chief Executive Officer (Ag.) and other management and staff of the NCF;
2017 Crop Over Stalwarts;
2017 Crop Over Honourees - Cedric Eastmond and Francine Belgrave;
Representatives of our Valued Partners;
Specially invited Guests;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen
Our official sign off for the season each year is right here at this annual Crop Over Awards Ceremony, lauding the achievements of those in winner’s row; recognising the contributions and yeoman service to the festival; and reflecting on the successes and challenges of Crop Over.
And so I begin with the reason for being here this evening, congratulations to all the awardees. We applaud your continued commitment and dedication to our Festival that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As I have said before, your efforts are now needed to take elements of the Crop Over brand to the major capitals of the world. This, once properly packaged, has the potential to earn new streams of foreign exchange for Barbados.
This year has been a phenomenal and certainly an unforgettable year for culture and by extension - creativity in Barbados. The fact that Barbados can produce a highly successful Crop Over Festival and within a few days move seamlessly into the successful production of the mega festival of CARIFESTA, and the host CPL cricket speaks volumes to the creative capacity of our people - in none of these events have we had to import sounds companies, technicians, event planners, site managers or festival planners - we should be proud as Bajans to know that that human capital reside right here in Barbados. In addition, we named Cultural Ambassadors RPB and Alison Hinds, formalised the ambassadorship of Rihanna and extended the ambassadorship of the Mighty Gabby - we also saw the magnificent restoration of the Queen's Park Building housing the revered Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre and the Art Gallery and the $19 million dollar refurbishment of the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium in time to host several CARIFESTA events. And the music ...
CROP OVER OVERVIEW AT GLANCE:
When looking at an overview of the Crop Over Festival, I first sought to focus as the song says on the Blessings of Crop Over, with its power to accrue benefits and to stimulate revenue earning opportunities for the NCF, its sponsors, stakeholders, promoters, entertainers and local businesses on the whole.
Crop Over remains in my view the most marketable cultural/festival tourism products Barbados has to offer, evolving more and more into a major economic pillar for the island. I have long said that many enjoy the value and benefits redounding from the season without contributing to its growth. An anomaly that we intend to address since we do have plan to enact special legislation to address issues such as licensing of the Crop Over and associated brand. In August, the Cabinet approved a number of policies designed to address some of the issues including the assignment of designated public health officers to the NCF to facilitate easier processing of health certificates and allowing for the Spring Garden Highway to be formally placed under the control of the NCF by lease or other necessary instrument. A focal point from Crop Over related matters is also to be identified within the Ministry of Transport and Works. Matters such as the designated party zones, and the reform of the entertainment Licencing and Liquor Licencing regimes while having been initially considered by the Cabinet - further details are being worked out for a resubmission to cabinet with a view to considering and legislative changes.
It is with sincere appreciation that we recognise our valued partners for their commitment to the development of our cultural and creative industries, allowing us to re-imagine and innovate this world class festival. There are many other options for investment and so we say THANK YOU for choosing the official Barbados Crop Over Festival events. The preliminary figures suggest that whereas there was an increase in the in-kind sponsorship, we saw a dip in the monetary contributions for the season.
That being said, we have had the blessing of some sponsors returning to the fold; we have had increased levels of participation from others; and 2017 will still be recorded as one of the biggest years for prizes in the competitions with four (4) vehicles on offer, following the addition of a vehicle for Masquerade, and with the most expensive vehicle ever to be awarded for Pic-O-De-Crop at a market value of $125,000.
Again post Crop Over, the conversations surrounded the quality of the events produced by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and a few changes to venues like the use of the 3Ws Amphitheatre at Kensington Oval for the competitions. From all perspectives – sponsors, performers and the general public alike, it worked well, something we should consider for 2018.
Another conversation brewing that will most likely dominate the airwaves in the coming season, is the proposed move from two competitions to one for Soca Royale. As expected, there is a mixed bag of reactions from both the entertainment community and the public at large. The idea to table a proposal for change came about as a result of the current music trends towards Sweet Soca and Bashment, in addition to the trends in attendance at the venues. Emotions aside, I am certain that the eventual discussions will take an objective analysis of the pros and cons of either option with the intent of improving on our festival products.
This year, we began the process of changing the face of Pic-O-De-Crop as we know it, to a more youthful experience - first to generate interest in the Calypso art form and second to ensure the preservation of the traditional aspects of this festival. Though the “new life” for Pic-O-De-Crop did manifest itself in an increase in the level of attendance this year, Over the last five years, there has a steady decline in the audience numbers at the semi-final stage of the competition and so there is still a need for open dialogue onnthis matter in the interest of protecting this festival product.
The reopening of Queen’s Park House and Queen’s Park Gallery for CARIFESTA XIII means that the Visual Arts Exhibition will have a new home/or will return home for Crop Over 2018.
With Heritage Tourism as a focus, and the popularity of the Crop Over Heritage products on a continued rise, the NCF has been collaborating on the reproduction/staging of these types of events outside of the Crop Over period.
The objective of the recent bus tour was always to make it into a sustainable heritage tourism product and so with the help of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BPTA), the bus tour ‘Bittersweet stories of Sugar, Molasses and Rum’ will soon be a regular feature of the available activities for tourists.
Crop Over 2017 was a good year for masquerade. There was an increase in subventions for the bandleaders, an increase in prize monies and for the first time, an inclusion of a prize vehicle for the Festival Designer of the Year. This was won by Kevin Small of Fifth Element.
Even with the threat of competing events, the Foreday Morning Jam continues to hold its own in the marketplace with a steady growth over the past few years and this year with comparable numbers parading on the road. Grand Kadooment recorded its highest number of registered bands in at least 15 years and for the first time in recent history every band made it onto Spring Garden even the Revellers truck.
Safety and security has always been a number one priority for the Barbados Crop Over Festival. I commend the efforts of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) in making this a safe festival. Policing our particular blend of 26 events spread over 13 weeks, many of them free mass events and still carrying out the regular business of the country keeping our population safe, is a mammoth task. Those of you who attended the events can attest to the stepped up level of security with sweeps and checks at all venues to ensure that any lawless threat of violence did not materialise. I thank you!
THE CHANGING FACE OF THE FESTIVAL
As you know, the increased mechanisation of the sugar industry over the years rendered the old method of selection of a King and a Queen of the crop impractical, and with effect from the Crop Over 2017 Festival a new system of honouring workers in the entire sugar industry was implemented. Two outstanding workers in the manufacturing of the sugar at the factory level were honoured – Cedric Eastmond and Francine Belgrave and they were so appreciative of the opportunity. In 2018, a different category of worker will be honoured and over time an array of workers across the industry will be rewarded.
The NCF will continue to work closely with the Barbados Sugar Industries Limited (BSIL) and the Barbados Workers’ Union in the selection of these new categories of honourees.
Our change to go paperless with online registrations for Crop Over 2017 was also successful, so you can expect to see a full paperless environment for the 2018 season.
So I am satisfied that we have been able over the years to build a mature and exciting Crop Over product, and I have to thank the NCF and our stakeholders for having successfully done so. I have heard at least one view that Crop Over has now outgrown the NCF and that we should look at have another entity produce Crop Over. And I have differed from this perspective because it is clear to me that not only has the NCF done extremely well to build the festival, but the fact that Crop Over has grown has not been by happen stance or by chance but by careful strategic planning particularly over the past five years led by the NCF and the stake holders.
As we open our minds to the numerous possibilities in store for 2018, remember the words of the Rick’s song…Crop Over is a Blessing, not a curse, it is the best thing in the world…I know for sure that it is the best time I have ever had and will continue to have if we all work together to make it a success.