Owen Arthur To Rescue Crop Over Festival~Whose Heads Will Roll?


Crop Over Out Of NCF’s Hands
Web Posted – Wed Aug 22 2007
This year, 2007, is the last year that the local Crop Over Festival will be managed under its present institutional arrangements. The above was disclosed by Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, as he spoke at the Prime Minister’s Meeting on the Crop Over Festival, held at the Barbados Hilton Hotel, yesterday. The one-of-a-kind meeting was one in which the Finance Minister, who is also Minister of Culture, set back his day’s schedule, to address issues relating to the future of the festival as presented to him by the many stakeholders of Crop Over, who turned out for the special meeting.


Source: Advocate

Prime Minister Owen Arthur is a master tactician. For many of the months he has been Minister of Culture he could easily be described as one of the most invisible Ministers to have held the portfolio. As General Elections rapidly approach Arthur has seen the opportunity to curry favor with Barbadian voters by announcing a restructure of the Crop Over festival at a time criticism has become more strident. We have witnessed the taken for granted band leaders threatening to boycott the festival next year which prompted an emotional outburst from the President of the Police Association Mr.Hartley Reid. There has been the public admission by followers of the calypso art form that standard of the music has been slipping and the time has come to chart a new path. Some pundits will say that the straw to snap the camel’s back was the “boycott” of flagship Cohobblopot 2007 by leading entertainers. It also became obvious that the Barbados Tourism Authority is being placed in an untenable position if they are asked to market key events in the festival which encourages people to travel thousands of miles and then our key entertainers refuse to perform.


Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Owen Arthur, (second from left) in deep conversation with Crop Over stakeholders, including Peter Boyce (right) of MADD Entertainment/Bacchanal Time Calypso Tent, Tony Hoyos (left), Owner of the Plantation Garden Theatre, and historian Trevor Marshall (seated right).

Most disappointing to BU has been the escalating tension between key stakeholders in Crop Over and the autocratic Ian Estwick led National Cultural Foundation. The relationship between key stakeholders has been deteriorating at a rapid rate in recent times. Should we apportion some of the blame to the BLP lackey Al Gilkes as well? If the NCF were a private enterprise someone would surely have been fired by now.

BU applaud the move by Arthur to restructure the festival and the NCF. The much discussed need to reposition the NCF to separate developmental and commercial strategies is a must. What we don’t like is the fact that it took so long.

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18 thoughts on “Owen Arthur To Rescue Crop Over Festival~Whose Heads Will Roll?

  1. Just when you thought that it could get no worst it springs a surprise on you.
    At her stint as minister Mottley blundered badly but now we have none other than the almight PM screwing it up.
    When you can hold the leading cultural event and fail to invite or pay of the services of local talent and then to import overseas performers is laughable and Owing presided over this fiasco he is gulity for his lack of management.
    However my observation is this that he may be jumping the gun by stating that it will not be held under the same arrangements as has been done from back in the early 70’s until now, as he will not be the one in a position to make that decision for next year.
    Thank god for the opportunity to cast a vote once evey five years, with this bunch we should have the chance to vote every year !!!!

  2. Bajans get tek once again.

    Owen for the longest while wanted to take the crop over out of the hands of the NCF and give it to the private sector (who knows perhaps allan fields), and now he has the perfect opportunity.

    According to arthur he wants to make money out of crop over.

    Note,not a word about the various issues and areas of complaints that have been raised about the festival,ie the lack of direction of the festival,the removal of many of the cultural aspects of the festival,the vulgar display by masqueraders,the lack of creativity in costumes,the suggestion recently put by the band leaders,the various complaints by calypsonians etc etc.

    So what we have now is more wastage of the public’s money,with the same ole confused,no-direction CEO and Chairman at NCF and their under used, well paid staff,and now another committee of which government will be putting in more money.

    How is culture going to be enhanced by all of this?

    Just more money for the boys.

  3. Better late than never. Nothing can happen before its time. However let us wait, but not with bated breath, to see what will transpire next year.

    Is this rhetoric another try at telling us what he, the Minister of Culture, thinks we want to hear?

  4. How could the Minister of Culture speak with authority on Crop Over when he was not on island when it took place. His absence from the main event in his portfolio is gross insult to the very stakeholders he assembled. Did anyone of them have the guts to tell him so? Hardly likely. The CBC clip on the meeting showed some known BLP lackies in the audience. NCF must be restructured but Arthur should not be the one to do it. Its time for him and his crew to demit office. Time for new blood and fresh ideas.

  5. Well said Hello he was now where near here when bottles were being thrown into bands and the uncouth actions that took place on the Monday and the fiasco of show but nevertheless he chose to skip the island during the main event under his care.

  6. You have an idiot as the head of NCF,plain and simple, this idiot appoints other idiots, why do you think Crop Over has become a failure since de idiot was appointed chairman.
    $Owing$ needs cash fast so sell off we festival nothing new on his part.

  7. Note the PM’s silence on the other issues that plague Crop Over and culture, the substantive ministry under his care, what was the main topic of discussion for him? MONEY! No longer will Crop Over be about embracing what is intrinsically Barbadian/Bajan, it’s now about making money. If the writing isn’t on the wall now folks, I don’t know when the rest of Barbados will see it.

  8. I for one am in total disagreement with the selling off of a cultural event of this size and importance as this event is, to private enterprise they are some things which the gov’t of the day must stand up and be counted for and this one of those events.
    Instead of taking the easy way out of this self inflicted mess the PM needs to seriously look at what were the causes of this fiasco this year as an outsider it appears clear to me that adminstration at the foundation needs firing starting with Estwick (but forgive me I forgot that he is a loyal subject of the blp) but how can we promote a local cultural festival and hire dub artiste to perform this is madness from the outset.
    He to was responsible for removing the mix of music from the Spring Garden on the Monday opting for their station.
    The last time I checked we were still living in a democratic society and freedom of choice is one of those options in a democracy but this appears to be disappearing ever so quickly.
    How will moving this event to a private sector operated event change the violence on the roads when the Police are within view of these incidents and turn a blind eye to them will a private sector run event have more or even have control of the security services?
    I think not Mr PM, you are opting out taking the easy way out like everything else you have dabbled in this event needs strong management something that none of you all exhibit in your ministerial functioning, neither you nor Mottley have ever come to grips with the reality of what Cropover means to we the people hence your inabilty to meet and resolve differences before they get totally out of hand as has happened each and every year you and Mottley have had anything to do with this event.
    Selling the event off is not the way out rather install sensible persons and let them get the show on the road, then again Mr PM do you have it in mind to sellit off to the Irish for a tidy sum and then we host Cropover Irish style after all you are always awake to pocketing a million or two in that Cayman Island account.

  9. I confused. What is the plan? Did I hear corectly that the plan is to be drawn up now that the PM went public? Cart before the donkey you think?

  10. Don’t be surprised if FAS entertainment starts running cropover.Remember what happened with congaline under AL Gilkes’ chairmanship of the NCF,

    Instead of Congaline we now have Reggae on the Hill , which is run by FAS entertainment of which Mr.Glkes is a partner.

  11. well watch out… for 2008 keep an eye on Al Gilkes and his promotion… FAS Promotions… they are the ones that bring you Reggae On The Hill, along with Berger Boyz they bring you 10 to 10 … and many other shows…

  12. The majority of persons. agencies and other institutions engaged in cultural activity in Barbados do not have the necessary knowledge or training to be efficient in their roles. How come the persons who have been trained and become qualified in these areas are not the ones involved in writing policy papers or are not the ones in charge ?

  13. I was overwhelmed with the validity of the comments response to this article,
    You commentators have hit the nail right on the head!
    It is refreshing to know that they are people out there who are the “Minister of Culture” cannot pull the wool over your eyes and fool you into beleiving what he is doing is for the sake of cultural industries.
    You have even mentioned the possibility of private sector financial gurus being brought in as major players in the entertainment which has until now been dominated by small black business people. This is a possibility that had crossed my mind but not even I in my controversial ness had dared to speak it.
    The supposed consultation on 21stAugust STARTED with the Prime Minister making a statement as to what HE wants to do in terms of establishing the Festival Events Bureau. It was not that comments from the industry were heard and then it was put forward as a possible solution.
    It was like this is what the government wants to do, take it or leave it!
    Objections were raised by informed members of the entertainment industry as to the fact that there had not been input into formation of this Festival Bureau from the industry and concerns about the government competing against private enterprise.
    These objections were seen as frivolous interruption of the master plan that MUST be put in place. Now the government has been ‘forced” to delay starting the Festival Events Bureau for three months so that a commission including cultural industries can be set up to assess its effect on the industry.
    This by the way is the second time I have heard this promise, but when that commission is set up all the salient comments made by you are to be addressed.

  14. Peter Boyce~thanks for your comments. As an insider, your unique perspective added to the track record you have at Bachannal should demand that the decision makers listen to you. Somehow, many people have the perception that your approach is too combative and hence decisive. Others might say that you and the others at MADD Entertainment are concerned that decisions to be taken by the Prime Minister will have some implication for your personal successful production.

    The question which some of us have would be whether the artistes, calysonians, band masqueraders, etc. have the skills to produce without government’s help.

  15. Pingback: Festival Events Bureau Comments U Should Read | Boyce Voice


    This is Asiba-The Buffalo Soldier–I have been involved in Cropover from its revival -as a likkle schoolboy — but nobody consulted me on this new move
    you might ask why consult me but i am representative of that block of persons including artistes, revellers, musicians-including tuk bands, tent musicians, tent owners, venue operators –in short all the people who have ever been involved in cropover at any level.

    time was when the N C F would write to individual calypsonians and invite them to various events. I remember particularly in 1983 when Elombe Mottley invited all the calypsonians to queens park theatre for discussions. I remember ( i sound like grynner) N C F inviting me to seminars by letter or telephone calls- I still have a letter from the N C F dated 1988 to this effect . Nowadays technology has improved leaps and bounds but you can have a situation where something like this consultation could take place and i ( representative of a large block) aint get invite or informed or nuttin. I AM VEXX

    LOOK – i would like to know what is the plan in Barbados for the people of Barbados because things seemed kinda stupid right now and getting ‘stupidre’

    Can you imagine that 5 years after i recorded and released a song called TOO MUCH FAT ON THE ROAD—-I have not received my royalties for this song. Can you believe that COSCAP may have some questions to answer. Somebody told me that as long as a certain man is any thing to do with COSCAP that certains things will be certain things—-I am getting ready to sue somebody’s tail just now

    Another thing –the song RAGGA RAGGA—There is a story behind this song and I Asiba -The Buffalo Soldier am calling for this story to be told

    what do the two statements above have to do with anything ?
    These are classic examples of the kinda nonsense that is going in Barbados hence the question

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