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Minister Lashley (right) at the head table with his Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman (middle) and the sponsors' representative Margaret Allman-Goddard.

Minister Lashley (right) at the head table with his Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman (middle) and the sponsors’ representative Margaret Allman-Goddard.

As Government works to expanding the annual Crop-Over Festival, authorities plan to increase and deepen their partnerships with more global interests.

Addressing a National Cultural Foundation thank-you luncheon for media practitioners at Divi Southwinds Resort, Christ Church this afternoon, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Stephen Lashley, listed a number of areas for broadening the country’s commercial relationship with foreign concerns.  “We’ve also seen quite a number of international stars joining bands and coming to Barbados with their followings; and that translates, not only into an injection into the Barbados economy of foreign exchange, but it creates a diversified tourism product,” Lashley said.

“I believe the Barbados Tourism Authority, working of course in conjunction with the ministry and the National Cultural Foundation, will have to look at that in terms of how we can expand that.”

He said he has also seen what he thinks would have to be the future of how the NCF pairs culture with other activities.

“We’ve seen for example the launch of the CPL cricket, which was in the middle of Crop-Over — and that has been a significant success,” Lashley noted. “It is an activity that certainly from the onset, we have encouraged. We have had early discussions with the CPL.”

The minister made it clear he had no problem with the CPL being played in the middle of the festival.

“It is a good idea of marrying sports with culture and with Crop-Over,” he pointed out.

He noted that the decision to highlight road tennis during the Crop-Over Opening Gala was part of the ministry’s thrust to link sports with the festival.

“That is why I did spent some time looking at the CPL and the fact that certainly from my vantage point, we are going to want to engage at an early stage with the planners of the CPL, because we think it is a good partnership.

“We think it is great for Crop-Over, and we feel that it’s really created that kind of synergy within the Crop-Over season; and we are going to seek to deepen that relationship,” Lashley declared.

The culture minister revealed that consideration was currently being given to introducing another festival, the Barbados Arts Festival, that could “lend greater diversity” by exposing the various genres of music and at the same time attracting, not only local interests, but international as well.

He disclosed too, that the NCF would seek to create commercial growth areas locally as well for next year. He identified some of the main areas to benefit as the pan cruise between Bridgetown and Speightstown, which started this year, partnering with community-based organisations, heritage tourism and easier business facilitation.

While Lashley said he could not give specific before a thorough review was done of the festival, he suggested that changes were expected next year for the increasingly popular Foreday Mornin’ jam, Soca Royale and the Crop-Over Gospel Concert.

The minister added that authorities would have to carefully examine some private events for next year as far traffic management and safety was concerned.

Both Lashley and the NCF’s Chief Executive Officer, Cranston Browne, praised the local media for their outstanding partnership with the foundation and coverage of the estimated 35 events. Brown said today’s thank-you luncheon and sharing, would be an annual affair. (EJ)

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