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Another level

by Donna Sealy

Does Crop-Over have to be driven by competition?

That’s what entertainment entrepreneur Phil Phillips wants to know.

The former manager of krofyah said in an interview with Barbados TODAY at Soca Royale that Bajan artists were forced to go back into the studio every nine months and produce new music which then led to the music from the previous year being classified as “old music”.

“There is no other genre of music that has to go through that tragedy, it’s almost a tragedy. I think that we have to look at how we are formatting our festival. If you look at tonight, there were good parts of the night but generally it dragged, in terms of a well produced show and I really think there’s a great opportunity for us to do something transformational. We have to have the willingness and the vision and to sell a new agenda for Crop-Over,” he said.

About Soca Royale, one of the marquee events on the NCF’s Crop-Over calender, he said it had “potential” but he would like it to reach the production levels that it can be “beamed to Europe, Australia, Africa, South America and really showcase why Barbados is a pretty special country”.

“It cannot be produced only for our consumption, and to move to the next level requires a lot of thinking and a lot of deep analysis to come up with a vision that we can sell to Barbadians,” he added.

Phillips further said that Bajan music was not making it into new markets.

“I’m not privileged to be able to say that beyond a Diaspora community that the music has been penetrating new markets. I do not believe that it has. I believe the music has been produced with a parochial audience in mind. It is produced en masse where over 300 songs are produced within a six week period and therefore we do not have the ability to really maximise the creative production of our artists because the shelf life is just too limited.

“There is a great need to ask ourselves how are we going to transform what we’re doing. Can we afford to only produce at the level for our own consumption particularly in the context of the global or the economic recession that we are faced with? Can we afford to do that?

“If it is that we are not going to transform, if it is that we are not going to use soca, calypso, Crop-Over as a catalyst to promote not just our music, our food, our craft, our services, to international audiences and international markets, then I think that we are short-changing the artists. We’re short-changing the populace because what we’re saying is that it’s only good enough for us,” he said.

The businessman stated that whatever was produced in Barbados should have “an audience and a focus” that went beyond the Caribbean.

He added: “What I hear when I hear about Crop-Over is a Diaspora market. I hear of a regional audience coming and that’s fine. But the point of the matter is Barbados has a wonderful opportunity to separate itself and position a festival or summer event at a global level that no other audience, no other Caribbean territory should have done.

“Most of the carnivals are created for local consumption. We can change that and promote our foods, our products, our services through our music in new markets but we must have the willingness to do so,” he asserted.

He said he was not seeing anything happening that indicated Barbados was ready to step in that direction.

“What have we done to market our art form beyond a Caribbean audience?” he asked.

Phillips said that change in this area would come when there was “a conversion from being an artist to being a businessperson who is an artist” and when that was done there should be natural change.

He also praised the artistes who performed saying they were “phenomenal”.

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