Address by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Q.C, M.P at Crop Over Sponsors’ Breakfast Launch 2011
Quite recently, representatives of the National Cultural Foundation made a presentation to the Cabinet in which they outlined the plans for Crop Over 2011.
The presentation provided Cabinet with a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the festival, detailing possibilities for growth and the challenges which were faced every year.
Taking into account contributions obtained from key stakeholders in the festival, recommendations were offered for more effective exploitation of the festival for the benefit of larger numbers of Barbadians, whether they were artists, entrepreneurs, revelers or observers.
This very commendable, well researched presentation served to strengthen the Government’s conviction of the socio-economic importance of this festival. It confirmed that Crop Over is a highly recognizable, unique “brand” – recognizable not only in the region, but internationally, for being “More than a Carnival”.
One of the reasons behind the re-introduction of Crop Over in 1973, was the stimulation of the local economy during the summer months, a time when the sugar cane harvest had ended and when the official tourist “high”
season had not yet begun. There is no question that the festival not only achieved that objective, but that it has gone on to replace that seasonal slump in the tourist market with vibrant economic activity.
It has given rise to numerous small businesses, and has resulted in the creation of a cadre of persons who provide essential professional services.
These include services in areas such as stage management, stage construction, lighting, and sound. In addition to those, are the services provided by event planners and designers. And, of course, there are
increasingly larger numbers of vendors plying their trade in and around the festival events.
Reference is often made to a survey carried out by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the University of the West Indies, which revealed that some 2,900 persons find employment each
year as a direct result of Crop Over. This number does not include those jobs which are generated in the hospitality sector, in ground transportation services, in the distribution and retail sectors and even in the media houses which at that time of year are inundated with requests for commercials advertising events related to Crop Over.
Crop Over, more than any other national event, has demonstrated that there are employment opportunities outside of what traditionally have been regarded as “real” jobs.
The economic return of Crop Over for the National Cultural Foundation might not be impressive. Actually, it has never been the ultimate mission of the NCF to be driven solely by profit making. The NCF is an agency whose primary responsibility is to facilitate creative expression and to develop the cultural industries. The staging of this national cultural festival, therefore, is but one strategy aimed at achieving this objective.
What is important, however, is that the returns are certainly manifested in the wider economy, in the conservative estimate of some 80 million dollars which are generated each year as a result of the festival.
A further look at the contribution of Crop Over to the national economy reveals what is termed the “multiplier effect” of the festival. That is, the incremental rate of return on each dollar invested in Crop Over by the Government.
Based on data gathered over the three-year period 2005 to 2007, it can be shown that, on average, every dollar which the Government invested in sponsorship, generated $52 in revenue. There is no other sector that can boast this rate of return, neither singularly, nor combined.
So far, I have been outlining to you the festival’s economic significance. I have not yet mentioned its social significance, such as the extent to which it provides an opportunity for Barbadians to come together and celebrate themselves and their country.
It is also the time of year when so many of our artists have a prime opportunity to display their talents and to share their creative expressions.
At this time of year, we should also bear in mind the fact that we should take this opportunity to reflect on and to celebrate the legacy of our forefathers who laid the foundation for the building of this great country Barbados. It is not by accident that Crop Over falls within what we call the Season of Emancipation, and as we celebrate, we must be mindful of those critical dates in our history which represent events that enabled us to be who we are today.
The fact that the Government continues to support this national festival, in spite of the ever increasing cost of producing it, and in spite of the direct losses to the National Cultural Foundation, is testimony to our recognition that we must not be motivated purely by short-term profit in this undertaking.
Crop Over 2011 will feature thirty-two events. The reality is that the number of these events which either have no admission fee, or just do not realize significant gate receipts, is far greater than the number of events which are profitable.
Those non-profit-making events are essential. They are developmental in nature, and are critical to the sustainability and growth of the culture sector in general and of Crop Over in particular. Unlike the private promoter, the Government is mindful of the fact that it must keep admission costs at a level which will not exclude large numbers of Barbadians. Crop Over is the people’s festival, and our aim is to encourage the widest possible participation.
It must also be noted that even though these developmental events do not realize a profit, the amount of business that is generated in and around them, is clearly beneficial to many vendors.
The Government is prepared to make as great a contribution to producing the festival as is practical, given its other commitments to national development, and given the prevailing economic climate. We have therefore to rely heavily on the support of the private sector.
Many of you here this morning have, over the years, earned the status of long-standing members of the Crop Over family. And for this you must be commended. You are obviously among those business persons who,
recognizing the value, both social and economic, of the festival, continue to make a contribution.
The effects of Crop Over are far-reaching. Year after year, we see the extent to which businesses across the spectrum, stand to benefit from it. Barbadians, from the very start of the first components of the festival, are
bombarded with invitations to take advantage of Crop Over Specials, Crop Over Sales, Crop Over this and Crop Over that.
And yet so many of those who are exploiting the brand, who are earning money from it, appear not to see it as their responsibility to contribute to its development and its sustainability!
Sponsorship does not have to come in quantities of six figures. Sponsorship is welcome and highly valued in even the smallest amounts, or even in kind. What is important, is that the Crop Over Sponsorship family be widened, so that as many enterprises as possible enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with the Government through the National Cultural Foundation.
This would go a long way towards ensuring that our major cultural festival maintains its high quality, and that it continues to make a substantial contribution to the socio-economic development of Barbados.
And so, this morning, while congratulating existing sponsors for being good corporate citizens, for demonstrating that in addition to entrepreneurial prowess, they also have a sense of social responsibility,
I should also like to take this opportunity to exhort others to follow their example, and to see a contribution to Crop Over as a contribution to the development of Barbados as a whole. We must all recognize the valuable
economic investment opportunities created by Crop Over and we must make a commitment to investing in and capitalizing on these opportunities.
I urge you, too, to see sponsorship not merely as a revenue earning opportunity, but also as a means of giving back to the Barbadian communities which, through their patronage, help to make your businesses
successful. Support for culture and the arts in Barbados must ultimately benefit the viability of local businesses.
I should like to congratulate Minister the Hon. Stephen Lashley, and the Chairman and staff of the National Cultural Foundation for the hard work which has already been done in preparation for the 2011 festival. It promises to be as stimulating and as well organized, as has ever been the case.
Congratulations again to those corporate entities which have supported the NCF. Thank you for your generosity and for your patriotism. You have set the example which others should seek to emulate.
To those of you who have not yet taken that step, I urge you to come on board, to enter into that critical partnership with the Government and the National Cultural Foundation. Join the Crop Over family!
Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to celebrating yet another safe and memorable Crop Over 2011.