No promises for 2014

by Latoya Burnham

Band leader Mackie Holder (left) and St. Joseph MP Dale Marshall at weekend launch.
Band leader Mackie Holder (left) and St. Joseph MP Dale Marshall at weekend launch.

One veteran band designer says despite claims that people spend money on entertainment when times are tough, he is seriously examining if the economic reality will allow him to bring his 20th band next year.

Designer of Wednesday 2000, Mackie Holder said as one of the few fully locally designed and created Kadooment bands on the island, it was getting harder each year to do what he does, with virtually no sponsorship.

Asked this weekend at the “soft launch” of his 2013 band, Uniquely Ours, about any big plans for his 20th year in the festival in 2014, Holder replied: “I don’t know, we might not even be around then. I’m serious. I don’t know.

“It’s an interesting thing that people say people lean towards entertainment and having a good time when things are tough, but times are really tough and … we really have to see how it goes.”

While other bands have been reporting sold out sections and even completely sold out bands for the season, he said his about 300-member was taking it a day at a time.

Pointing to the headdress of one of his female sections and the colourful feathers, Holder noted that the headpiece alone, even minus the encrusted diamant√s was about $200-plus, and with times being what they are, he did not believe patrons should be spending $1,000 and up to jump.

“None, nada,” he said, when asked about sponsorship. “As I’ve said all the time, we do it for fun. As long as I’m not owing anybody at the end of the day.”

“I think it is a great business to be in, if you can make it successful. It has produced some fairly rich people in Barbados already, the whole Crop-Over thing, but you have to be in it like that. For me that is not my thing. So I will balance it, because there are sections that will lend themselves to certain stuff, that is where we will go and at the end of the day we will try to make sure that it does not go overboard.

“We will have to look at it, like everybody else, like the Government and the NCF [National Cultural Foundation) will have to look at it, because the costs are outweighing what you can charge. There are only X amount of people who will pay $1,200 for a costume. I wouldn’t, but that’s only me. There are other priorities in life,” he said.

He pointed out that in Crop-Over, bands could be “sold out early” for various reasons, including sections or bands being subcontracted for certain companies and then there were others who had excellent marketing machinery behind them because it was what they did professionally.

“There is a market for all kinds of people. I would not pay that kind of money, but there is a market and if the market can bare it, fine. If someone wants to pay that, I see no reason why they shouldn’t.”

The designer said the process of designing his band had not changed much, even if elements were more expensive.

“Nothing has changed very much in how we approach the band. We choose a theme and try to represent our theme as fully as is possible… We put in all our costs and come up with a price and that is what it is. You learn as you go along how to do things a little differently, but it is hard to do things this way, which is why a lot of people are bringing things from China and Trinidad and wherever else. Doing things by hand is a little more tedious but that is how it is and it is not a problem for us.

“I think we put out something that is equal to what is imported, so we are happy with what we do. We don’t see ourselves as competing. Our motto is more fun than any other band and that is what we set out to do,” he said.

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