Barbadian Culture Minister’s Address to Sponsors’ Breakfast and Launch of Crop Over at Hilton Barbados

Hon. Stephen Lashley address to Sponsors' Breakfast and Launch of Crop Over

As you know our main purpose for being here is to present you the plans for Crop Over 2011, so that you are aware of what is in store. I have been assigned the very pleasant task of providing you with a brief overview of the festival.

I am pleased to say that in conceptualizing the 2011 festival, we were able to take into consideration the concerns and suggestions of our stakeholders, thanks to the series of consultations which were held earlier. We considered that it was absolutely necessary that we should hear directly from those most closely involved in and affected by Crop Over.

The process of meeting with our constituents began on Monday, January 31 when the newly constituted Board of the National Cultural Foundation started a series of nightly consultations at the newly renovated Queens Park Steel Shed. These meetings allowed stakeholders in the festival to interact with the NCF Board and staff, to discuss their concerns and voice their opinions and share ideas.

I am sure that those who participated would agree that the discussions were cordial, frank and productive. In fact some of the contributors to these discussions are here this morning and I will take this opportunity to thank you personally for your valued input.

I am confident that you will find that the calendar of events for 2011 reflects many of the suggestions coming out of those meetings.

The detailed reports of the constituents are being reviewed by my ministry and by the National Cultural Foundation, so that in future planning we can incorporate, where practical, more of your suggestions.

Ladies and gentlemen, before I get into giving you an insight into the festival events, I would like to make special mention of the contribution to the stake holders meetings of the exponents of Folk who spoke in one loud voice, imploring the NCF to increase their involvement in Crop Over so that they could contribute in a more meaningful way to educating Barbadians, through the medium of Folk music, about the history and culture of our island.

Their advocacy for an expanded role for this indigenous form of Barbados music served to reinforce my own position, which is that traditional elements such as Gospel music, the tuk band, along with indigenous local sports must be given a pride of place with the more commercially driven events of the festival.

And so Ladies and Gentlemen, rest assured that both Folk and Gospel music will feature more prominently in Crop Over 2011.

There will be two major presentations of Folk, one at the refurbished Queen’s Park Steel Shed and the other at the traditional Crop Over Folk which is held to commemorate the Riots of 1937. This year the concert will be held at Charles Fort in the Hilton Barbados.

The Gospel Concert will be heralded on the calendar with a triumphant return, also at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.

Of course, Crop Over 2011 would not be complete without including some components which are representative of the Government’s bid to have Historic Bridgetown and the Garrison nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I have every confidence that our bid will be successful and that our site will be inscribed on the World Heritage list. Afterall, our capital city has played a crucial role in the history of the Hemisphere and I would advise all Barbadians to seek to learn about Bridgetown and its role in the history of the so-called New World.

I highly recommend that you should all take advantage of the historic tours of Bridgetown and lecture and tour of the West Wing of Parliament.

These are all part of the festival and will provide you with valuable and extremely interesting information on the Barbados of long ago.

Those of you who are old enough to remember Crop Over in the 1970’s will recall the closure of Bridgetown to vehicular traffic, and the transformation of the City into something of a street fair. This will happen again in 2011 for the event entitled the Bridgetown Alive Dooflicky. For one day you will enjoy the luxury of strolling through Bridgetown, enjoying such features as creative landscaping and outdoor markets with a variety of vendors’ stalls.

Bridgetown and its environs will also be the hub for the steel pan shows in the Bridgetown Alive Dooflicky, Pan in the City, Pan Pun de Sand and Pan Fusion. Perhaps one of the most picturesque events will be the Official Opening and Ceremonial Delivery of Last Canes which will once again herald the start of the season. The entire Queen’s Park complex will be appropriately decorated and transformed into a place for the display of things past and present.

Another first at Crop Over will be the introduction of the Youth Rallies which will start the build up to the season. Increasingly, our youth are demonstrating their willingness and ability to rise to the occasion when it is demanded of them.

Whether it is Rihanna or the Barbados U17 football team which performed creditably at the Youth World Cup, we need to embrace our young people and assure them of our support and encouragement.

On my instructions, therefore, the National Cultural Foundation will ensure that the youth are involved in the planning and execution of the festival.

It is our intention to recruit three hundred young volunteers from National Youth groups and the National Youth Forum to be part of Crop Over. We would like to instill in them a spirit of volunteerism, of giving back to their community. We have a particular interest in increasing their involvement in the festival, since research has proven that cultural and artistic activities are two of the most powerful and effective tools in promoting social inclusion.

Unquestionably the Junior Calypso competitors will be attracting great interest, as will their counterparts in the Junior Kadooment in a celebration of authentic costuming.

Another innovation this year will be the night –time staging of the Party Monarch competition.

If the new location at Bushy Park was an overwhelming hit last year, you can well imagine how the stage will be enhanced under the brilliance of the lights. This will be further motivation for the finalists who can take the opportunity to add more sparkle to their presentation.

The overseas marketing of Crop Over is of course of critical concern. We want to encourage as many people as possible to come to Barbados to celebrate with us. To my delight therefore, the NCF and the BTA have signed an Agreement to ensure that the two agencies will work closely together for the smooth coordination and implementation of an effective international marketing thrust for Crop Over.

On behalf of the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth and the Chairman, Board and staff of the National Cultural Foundation to wish you a very enjoyable and safe Crop Over 2011.

Remember, we are the only ones who should boast that our festival is ‘The Sweetest Summer Festival!

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