Crop Over loss
The numbers on the road this Grand Kadooment have shown a significant decrease, with just about 10,000 making their way to Spring Garden.
Party band Power X Four leader and Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) president Chetwyn Stewart noted that this was a sign of changing times.
“Foreday Morning has grown so large! And a lot of people who would jump Foreday Morning are people who only used to jump at Grand Kadooment,
and they can’t afford both,” explained the veteran bandleader.
Stewart noted too that the J’Ouvert party was no longer the same.
“Foreday Morning bands are actually bringing costumes now. Before they weren’t; they were just doing T-shirts and stuff.”
He added that the changing costumes meant increased prices, therefore limiting the number of participants in the finale Grand Kadooment.
“Foreday prices are all the way up to $275, so some of these people who would like to jump Grand Kadooment too, by the time they spend the $275 [and] they do the parties, they realize, ‘Well, wait, I can’t raise $500’,” explained Stewart.
The bandleader divulged that this Grand Kadooment he made a loss amounting
“I was actually contemplating skipping this year,” Stewart told Barbados TODAY. “This was a result of an extremely late start, with only three weeks to prepare.”
As BAM president, Stewart highlighted the challenges of maintaining a Grand Kadooment band.
“An average big band can cost over $500,000 to put on the road . . . . The problem comes in with the taxes. It’s not that we don’t wanna pay tax; we just think that it’s unfair that the tax is this high for us.”
He stressed: “You can’t make any money [since most of the earnings would go to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA)].”
Criticizing BRA’s actions of focusing on insignificant matters, Stewart said: “The amount of energy that the BRA’s using to track down these security men who’re getting a little $50, when they are people out there . . . [with] millions of dollars in taxes”.
The ongoing tension between the Barbados Revenue Authority and bandleaders, promoters and tent managers has yet to be resolved.
“We have to keep pushing and keep mentioning, and hope that something will happen very soon,” Stewart stated.
The BAM president added: “I think the Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, I honestly feel that he is with us; and it’s just a matter of if he can also convince the powers that be that what we’re saying makes sense.
“The Government needs to start putting more money into the festival itself, and the locals need to understand that they are benefiting from the whole festival because the $110 million is being generated in the economy,” he suggested.
Noting the number of arrivals participating in the Crop Over Festival, Stewart noted “the money trickles down”, evidenced by the bustling activity in stores like Cave Shepherd.
“They are not just paying money to jump with the band; they’re buying food, they’re going out. That’s generating money in the economy; that’s what we need.”