Barbados Crop Over 2007 Continues To Swirl In Controversy

New NCF D.D.A (Diss De Artistes) Dept Doing Well

Posted by: peter


The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) yesterday announced the establishment of a new department dedicated to the cultural industries of Barbados. The CEO at a press conference proudly introduced a new initiative of the NCF entitled D.D.A meaning – the “Diss De Artistes” department.
Source: boycevoice blog


This weekend is the last lap for Crop Over 2007.  It seems appropriate given all that has happen during the season to donate some BU space to examining one of the many issues troubling the festival…

Peter Boyce’s name is sure to always surface around Crop Over time. He and his school mates on leaving school have been able to brand themselves in the entertainment industry in Barbados. Few would deny they have demonstrated over the years that they are excellent businessmen given their success with Bachannal Time calypso tent. Peter Boyce is often credited with challenging the status quo at the risk to his personal reputation. Regrettably, most Barbadians because of their inclination to want to avoid conflict prefer that Peter Boyce would shut-up and just go away. BU over the years would not have agreed on some of the issues which Peter has introduced, but in general we have a healthy respect for the man who has not been afraid to air and defend his position on behalf of his colleagues involved in Crop Over industry.

It is no surprise after reading his blog that his latest post which is cloaked in satire, pokes fun at the latest controversy which has emerged during Crop Over 2007. It appears that the show piece event Cohobbolopot will be missing many of the leading local acts. Although CEO of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) issued a press statement which has deflected the issue to the local artistes demanding unreasonable performance fees, Peter echoes another view. The truth is we have heard many of the other artistes airing similar views on the various talk shows which discuss the festival. At the heart of the matter is the perception of the local artistes, real or imagined, that the foreign artistes contracted to perform on the show will be paid significantly more than the local artistes. Peter appears to be cynical about the involvement of foreign artistes in the local festival. We do not have the facts of this case to arrive at an intelligent conclusion but we can offer a suggestion to BATMAN or the United Artistes of Barbados (UAB), we are not sure who is charged with acting on behalf of the artistes anymore!

It does not seem unreasonable that before the start of the season the NCF and the agent acting on behalf of the local artistes should conclude contract agreements long before the season starts. The Crop Over festival has been in existence too long to be continually dogged by the niggling controversies which inevitably seem to appear hours before a major event. Crop Over is being reported this year as being a 50 million dollar enterprise; it must not be managed like the rum shop in the village (oops that might be a bad example). Although we have heard Admiral Nelson, a local radio personality expressing the view that the artistes need to shut up and take charge of festival, we do not agree. The Crop Over brand has been developed at great expense by successive governments and the major events of the festival must be managed by the NCF or the appointed government agency. The huge task which is required to mobilize diverse resources cannot be left to the calysonians who have shown an inability to agree whether a tea bag is required to make a cup of tea over the years.

Perhaps the latest discontent by the local artistes is being fueled by the prevailing feeling of many Barbadians that our island has now become the play ground for anyone who is foreign. The local calysonians, whether they want to accept it or not, cannot benefit under CSME as one of those elite groups given favor to move around CARICOM peddling their art forms, and then resist any reciprocal arrangements. They should remember that Arthur is the lead Prime Minister for CSME matters and must visibly demonstrate that Barbados is on board with the concept. While we empathize with our local artistes they have become entangled in a process which is much bigger than any narrow interest they represent. They need to also recognize that Al Gilkes (Chairman NCF) and Ian Estwick (CEO-NCF) are merely functionaries who are marching to the beat of drummer boy Arthur. Did anyone notice that we seem to be unable to avoid the long arms of the politicians?

So what is the solution?

That is the 64 thousand dollar question!


6 thoughts on “Barbados Crop Over 2007 Continues To Swirl In Controversy

  1. I have always had reservations about Ian Estwick as CEO at the NCF. Compare Elombe Mottley to Ian Estwick and see what I mean. Elombe was selling culture 24 hours a day. I get the sense that Ian Estwick operates like if it was a day at the office. Well taht is my perception.

  2. Tell me the answer to this question: How can you have a band register as a large band and then get judge and be awarded first place in the small band category? Is it fair for them to rob Bajana and give the prize to Outrage? Outrage registered with 800 revellers for Kadooment day yet could not even muster 200 to get through the stadium. Whose fault is it that they did not reach their allotted numbers? I think we need an appeal here people.

  3. Without question, the spectrum of published culture in Barbados has shown considerable growth since the seventies and for good reason plateaued in the nineties. A simple change in personality be it politician or otherwise will not resolve some of the perceived problems. For example, the Festival is linked to the Crop(Sugar) that has been dwarfed by Tourism. Furthermore, we have seen from golf and cricket, that the money spinner is not the crowd attending the sport.
    The future development of this aspect of our culture requires type of restructuring that takes place when business are sold, taken over or merged. The experience of Credit Unions, Barbados National Bank, Barbados Insurance Corporation of Barbados, are perfect examples of what is possible. If look also at the growth of Accounting, Engineering and Construction Firms in Barbados, all the successful companies began with an “El Hombre” at the head and broadened the management hierarchy as the businesses grew.
    It is a tribute to the stake holders that in spite of the challenges, we now have a product of which we can be proud. However, as the word gets out internationally, and it will, others from outside will come and lure away the gems for their own interest.
    Ultimately it is the artistes and public through an action and response process that ultimately set standards and determine what part of our product lives on. The main reason for what appears to be cultural chaos at the time is not Estwick or Arthur. It is our unwillingness to join hands in an endeavor that hold some of the stones that could knock down the walls that still divide us. At this point in our history, our response to our cultural pursuits certainly mirrors the image we have of ourselves. Within the last five years, TUK permeated with acclaim, all kinds of music, yet Barbadian will fight over calypso and reggae derivatives, rather than define and claim its own!

  4. BirdPickmango~you have said a lot! Where we part company is the fact that the process of managing culture is dynamic and someone/entity must have the skill set to preside over the thing.

  5. David thanks. I don’t think we differ. When Crop Over was in its baby stages, it was important that the leader – the chief cook and bottle washer – needed both the management skill and the passion for culture among other things. El Hombre would probably deny this, but when ticket sales were slow, he and Fingall would knowingly pick a fight because they both clearly understood the fundamentals of marketing. In any new relevant structure, leadership would be required both at the board level – policy- and Executive – day to day management. Both banking and Insurance are dynamic processes that succeed only when there is benefit for the stake holders. Culture is no different. The Managing Director of ” The National Cultural Bank Of Barbados” would be required to coordinate persons with a knowledge of Marketing, Accounting, Export, Cultural Development, Archives, Performance and production e.t.c. What El Hombre clearly understood and practiced was the benefits of linking Barbados with the best of the world. Cohobblopot should be an opportunity for Barbadian artiste to perform with and learn from the best in the world. It should be the type of four hour cultural show that visitors would come just to see.

  6. I don’t think that “El Hombre” is the correct name. El hombre is “the man” in Spanish, but I believe Elton Mottley calls himself Elombe, which I believe is African Yoruba. I write under correction.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.