Some of the major players in Crop Over today declared total agreement with the Government’s decision to cancel the 2020 festival.
Bandleaders, tent managers and entertainers told Barbados TODAY that cancelling the annual ‘summer’ festival was inevitable since the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be controlled globally.
Many of the creative industry figures admitted that they were disappointed the festival would not be staged this year, but all agreed that the health of the nation must take centre-stage.
Calypso great Most Honourable Dr Anthony The Mighty Gabby Carter indicated that considering all that has been happening locally and internationally as a result of the pandemic, the Crop Over 2020 edition would have resulted in significant losses for public and private sector players.
He said giving the festival the green light at this time would have also severely affected the preparation process for all players, especially artistes’ ability to properly prepare their music.
“My sympathy is for the artistes, for NCF [National Cultural Foundation] and for the Government. Overall I would say that the Ministers and the PM [Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley] are doing a fantastic job in a very trying time and trying situation,” Dr Carter said.
The cultural icon noted that of the many times the festival’s survival was cast in doubt since inception in 1974, this is the first time in its history that the doubts have become reality.
“We have had times where it looked like you ain’t going to have no Crop Over because of different things like negotiations or prize monies, but it always came off,” he said.
Manager of De Big Show (DBS) tent Merle Niles, who said cancelling the festival was the best decision considering the circumstances, said that allowing visitors to come to the island for Crop Over would have posed a further risk to the local population which is already battling with containing the spread of the virus.
But Niles noted that while the move would be a financial blow for full-time entertainers, they should understand it is for the sake and safety of all.
Niles said: “Perhaps some creative solutions can be found to assist. DBS tent team has not met since the announcement to look at what can be put in place once the ban is listed but some of the members of the tent have come up with a few ideas which may be able to assist with the shortfall.”
The bandleader of House of Soca Sharon Carew-White, said now is not the time to worry about the loss of economic gains from the season, but rather at focusing on preserving and safeguarding lives.
Carew-White said her team at House of Soca has always used technology to connect and discuss what can be done to enhance the tent’s offerings for 2021.
“I would like Barbadians to adhere to the health care authorities rules and stay safe and stay at home. When it is time we will be able to, as they say, gather. Look at We Gatherin’ had to be postponed,” Carew-White said.
Fifth Element bandleader Kevin Small said while he would definitely miss being on the road for Kiddies Kadooment and Grand Kadooment, he commended Government for making what he considers to be a “fantastic move” at this time.
Small who has won several titles for his designs said he believes his fellow bandleaders would agree that selling the best product to the outer world is important.
Small said: “A number of persons would be affected but I am sure that everybody shares the same sentiment. We all will be affected but it is just a case that we are going to have to hold strain and use this time as a means to gather thoughts and see how best we can better the new Barbados product to the world as we reopen our borders eventually and be able to exhibit a more impactful product than the one we would have closed with.”
The leader of the six-year-old band said while he had started to gather raw materials for his costumes, he was not counting losses but was focused on the opportunity to better the Fifth Element product.
Richard Haynes of Baje International said though he fully understand that people are disappointed about the cancellation of one of the sweetest summer festivals, it must be recognized that Government was placed between a rock and a hard place.
But Haynes who said plans were already in full swing for his band to participate in Grand Kadooment 2020 noted that the focus must now be on bettering his product.
Looking to the bright side for the arts and entertainment industry, he anticipates a burst of several shows on the island when it overcomes the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are going to be lots of parties and events being held. People wouldn’t have to wait on a festival, things are going to be happening,” Haynes said.