Crop Over blues
Calypsonians concerned about date changes for major contests
With just a few weeks to go before the start of the 2016 Crop Over festival, last minute date changes for two of the most popular events are causing unease and uncertainty among the entertainment fraternity.
According to an official source, the Pic O De Crop final has been moved forward by nearly a week, from the original date of July 30. The calypso contest will now be held on July 24.
If this date stands, it will be the first time in its history that the competition is being held on a Sunday.
In addition, the Soca Royale competition is being pushed back by a week from the original July 24 date to July 31.
Veteran entertainer Adrian Clarke said this move would put a further damper on the already watered-down festival.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY the entertainers were never formally advised of the changes, although it had been “mentioned” at the end of a recent meeting.
“They brought up the date change at the end of a stakeholders meeting. Persons were walking out of the meeting as they mentioned it. It wasn’t something that was a part of the discussion. We didn’t go there to discuss that.
“As far as I remember being told, everything was in place where the competitions are concerned. It wasn’t discussed; it was something that was just mentioned. So for them to come now and say Soca Royale would be on this date without discussing it is a bit concerning,” Clarke said.
The former calypso king said he was worried that this was yet another nail in the coffin of the festival, accusing the organizers of “killing off history”.
“I just find that we are in the habit of killing off good shows. We like killing off history. I find that’s what has been happening with the NCF [National Cultural Foundation]. They have just been killing off history. Cohobblopot should never die. It shouldn’t be that Pic O De Crop is struggling. It shouldn’t be those sorts of things,” a concerned Clarke lamented.
Clarke also called on the NCF to think long and hard before making such decisions.
Historically, the Pic O De Crop final was held on Friday night but was moved to Saturday two years ago.
Clarke argued that any change should include reverting to the original night.
“If you need to move something, why not move the Pic O De Crop competition? Hold it back on the Friday night. That’s something that could be discussed. The guys would probably be more interested in that,” he said.
Clarke also complained about the date change for the Soca Royale competitions, arguing it would be unfair to the winners.
“Let’s say I have some party music that starts to do well, and somehow I was to win Party Monarch or Sweet Soca, the winner usually gets to do all of the shows to follow and so on. If this is held the Sunday night, the night before jump up, no one will be hiring you to do anything after that because nothing is happening. It’s just Kadooment Day after that.”
Meantime, ten-time calypso monarch Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire said he was not aware of the changes. However, he speculated that “something major must have happened” to cause the shift.
“I know that they had an issue because there is a big cricket game playing that weekend at Kensington Oval so that must be the reason for shifting dates and so on. I don’t know what is the reason, though. I wasn’t a part of that at all,” he said.
Wiltshire said his main concern was the effect the changes would have on the crowds at Bushy Park for Soca Royale “because a lot of those people are going to be playing mas and you know St Philip is quite a long pull.
“We left up Bushy Park last year after one [in the morning]. A lot of those people are the same people that would be leaving to go prepare to play mas the next day,” he said.
The former monarch predicted that the changes would impact the festival and would deprive the entertainers of many of the opportunities they would normally have had on Sunday.
“A lot of people would have planned their events for that Sunday and it’s not even like a case of Cohobblopot where calypsonians would be able to go and perform there and then go to another show.
“When it’s a competition it’s a different kettle of fish. There is far more focus on the performance in the actual competition. A lot of them may end up missing out on performances even as far back as two nights before because they would have rehearsals. It is going to take some adjusting to. If better can’t be done, better can’t be done,” the multiple winner told Barbados TODAY.