It’s time to take another look at Crop-Over.
I don’t mean one of those pat-yourself-on-the-back exercises ending with the finding that generally a good job is being done by all and that all that is needed is “a little tweaking” here and there. I wish I had some of these “tweakers” to deal with. I would show them some real tweaking!
The truth is that there is very little meaningful development of the festival, which has become sadly stagnant in some areas. The removal of the very things that made Crop-Over more than a Carnival has resulted in a festival with not enough character which is now just a big party with little focus.
What happened to the things like the Culture Village, I think it was called? It used to take place in King George V Memorial Park in St. Philip and had a back-in-time flavour? Given the popularity of anything back-in-time these days, except calypso quality of course, this could be a really big thing if some thought were given to it.
For example, people could be asked to dress to reflect the theme and the live music could do the same, along with the DJs – all Bajan, of course. That could be a big event on the Crop-Over calendar.
I manned a stall on Spring Garden on Sunday and I was disgusted to see what Bridgetown Market has become. First of all, there was not significant signage to indicate where the craft workers were located. I was looking for the entrance to The Ranch to watch Bolt demolish the field when I just came upon craft stalls lining two sides of the road leading to where the big stage was set up. If a fella didn’t know they were there, they would be ignored for the whole day. I wonder how those workers did.
On the other hand, there right on the highway was stall after stall selling inflatable Spiderman toys and all Taiwan has to offer. In a folk festival? You mekkin sport! It should be the other way around, with the Taiwanese merchants in a side road and the creative people up front.
Now I know that the sellers of Taiwanese products have to live too; they are Bajans, at least some of them. However, we have to ask what we are creating and selling to the world. Find a place for those sellers but they should not be the face of Bridgetown Market.
I would like to see Bridgetown Market become something which is really a folk experience, with artistic installations on the street, street drama and dance, mime and music on offer that is different than exists now.
I don’t know who came up with the Hitlerian idea that there should only be one source of music on the highway for Bridgetown Market. Anyone with a basic knowledge of festivals knows that it is the potpourri, the “Cohobblopot” of music that helps to create a great atmosphere. Part of the experience is wandering from stall to stall and hearing different music each time; it’s beautiful.
Yes, you will get some stalls playing dub and dancehall but that’s their thing. No one is forcing anyone to remain there; move on until you find the vibe you like. Instead, what we now have is like some musical gulag. It is a ridiculously straightjacketed way to conceive of a festival that by its very definition has to be flowing. I really don’t understand how anyone could think that was the best way to go.
Some things have to change in the calypso arena as well, such as giving the points at the end of each stage so the calypsonians will be able to see how they have been doing rather than waiting until the end of the season to release the points. What’s the big secret? If the points are valid enough for the competition to proceed, release them, nuh? But this is only one way in which the artistes are placed last.
I tellin yuh now. If Jah spare life, next year the NCF will dealing with people not so disposed to taking any more disrespect. We are tired of the artistes always being the last to be considered, then people coming out and smiling saying all the stake holders are involved. Yeah, right.
Let’s all sit and look at this festival seriously. It makes too big a contribution to the economy, especially at the lower end of the social ladder, for us to allow it to degenerate into even more visionless meandering.