Focus on making Barbados the entertainment capital, says Gilkes

Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Cranston Browne has agreed with a local promoter that Barbados has what it takes to become the entertainment capital of the Caribbean.

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 Digicel Barbados Reggae Festival last night at Kensington Oval, Director of FAS Promotions Al Gilkes reiterated the call he made during a previous launch, saying the time was ripe for such a move.

“I would like to refer you right now to what is happening in a neighbouring country, St Lucia, where they have moved away from just their single festival and now they’re having festivals throughout the year with the aim of becoming, in their words, ‘the festival country of the Caribbean,’” Gilkes told the gathering.

“And this isn’t just to provide St Lucians with entertainment, but to attract thousands of more tourists and visitors to that country. So I would like to again put in my appeal to the powers that be to consider us becoming the entertainment capital of the Caribbean,” he stressed.

In response, Browne, who was delivering remarks on behalf of the Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, said though he felt Barbados could become the entertainment hub of the region, its cultural sector needed a bit more stimulation.

He however praised the promoters of the reggae festival, for doing their part to boost both the cultural and tourism sectors.

“The festival has grown to be one of the leading music festivals in the Caribbean. This festival epitomizes the development of the cultural sector in Barbados and its contribution to the economic growth and development of the nation. Outside of the Crop Over festival, which is the high point for commercial activity for persons in the cultural sector, the reggae festival provides substantial earning capacity of the sector,” Browne said, even in the absence of needed financial data.

He therefore urged the promoters to produce empirical evidence of the impact they were making through the festival, saying, “Whereas countries like Jamaica can point to figures to show the contribution of music to their GDP, it is more difficult for Barbados to do so.

“It is for this reason that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, through the Cultural Industries Authority, commenced a systematic mapping of the cultural sector in December 2016. This, when completed, will show a true impact of the sector to national development. Such information is critical if empirical evidence is to be garnered to prove the worth of the sector to national development. This mapping will inform policy formulation and even funding of the sector. I take time out to request for FAS Entertainment to share their data as far as the impact on the cultural sector is concerned,” Browne said.

Before a gathering that included tourism stakeholders, the NCF boss also spoke of the contribution of the Barbados Reggae Festival to the overall tourism product.

“It has engendered brand equity and loyalty in terms of its image and creation of the festival atmosphere, the network forum and international exposure for local artistes . . . . The number of arrivals has been equally impressive. Every year, this festival attracts capacity crowds,” he said, adding that the festival, which runs from April 23-30, was like fine wine and getting better with time.

“The festival’s reputation is known far and wide, not only in Jamaica where reggae is king, but in the Diaspora and Europe and North America. I’m advised that there has been interest from as far as Russia. It attracts the best and brightest in entertainment and showcases local talent,” Browne added.

In her remarks, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner said the festival was considered to be Barbados’ biggest annual private sector entertainment production.

“The growth of the Barbados Reggae Festival highlights what is possible when entrepreneurship and vision coincide. We must not see it as just providing entertainment, but let us recognize that it adds value to our tourism industry and improves our overall product,” she said.

Sandiford-Garner said the contribution was reflected in the 5,000 tickets sold online ticket for the festival between 2015 and 2016.

“The hosting of this festival on an annual basis has the potential to create a multiplier effect on the economy. Importantly, it encourages travellers to visit Barbados during the slowest season, which stretches, from April to November. This not only helps to provide a year round tourism industry, but also has a knock on effect for the economy.

“Patrons of the festival are likely to book accommodation, rent vehicles, patronize restaurants and food outlets, purchase arts and crafts, and visit tourist attractions. So we welcome this festival as yet another boost for our tourism sector,” she added. 

8 Responses to Focus on making Barbados the entertainment capital, says Gilkes

  1. Wayne Dixon
    Wayne Dixon March 31, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Can’t wait to visit!

  2. F.A.Rudder March 31, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    They can have their music festival Al and we can have our surfing at the Soup Bowl and our Sol Carribean International Motor Rally seasoned with entertainment that no other country can offer. We are proud for St.Lucia, but there are other thing that we offer which St.Lucia doesn’t offer. One Love Al! Barbados is unique don’t you forget!

  3. Alex Alleyne March 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Will there be a “piece of the pie” for local entertainers ??????.
    AND MUST BE PAID IN US$$$$$$$ too.

  4. Bajan First March 31, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Entertainment Capital of the World! No problem with that if it represents thousands of additional visitors coming to our shores to participate in these activities or if they are going to encourage tourists to leave their hotels to come out to these activities in similar numbers to those seen in Oistins on a Friday night! If this can happen then go for it, the foreign exchange benefits could be significant. However if these activities will result in even larger numbers of our people becoming party animals and entertainment junkies, spending money which should be used for the betterment of their families, then we do not want it! Let us conduct the research and analysis before we jump at this nice sounding phrase. It might be beneficial to the promoters, retailers etc. and hence they would want to go for it. We need to be careful that such activities would not be harmful to our values and norms in addition to being a drain on our foreign exchange rather than an asset to the effort to increase the foreign reserves.

  5. Mike Callender April 2, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Most of these pious comments are unlikely to be fulfilled. First, show me the numbers to support the assertion that this festival has worldwide appeal to attract visitors from as far away as Russia. Far from earning foreign exchange, these artists are paid in US dollars which adds to the depletion of our reserves, and based on observation only, it appears that 99% of attendance is local

  6. Carson C Cadogan April 3, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Cant believe why we would do something as stupid as that. With the attendant rowdy , nasty behaviour that would follow it.

    Al Tricks really should find something better to do with the few years that he has left/

  7. seagul April 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Al Tricks… lol….We are already entertainment junkies, thanks to hollywood and the brainwashers promoting family and culture destruction. Not putting down beautiful B’dos, but it would take about hundred years for it to reach the worldwide popularity of Jamaica. We should more concentrate on seeing that our dollar is not declining anymore….economics m&m.

  8. Graham G April 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Some of the responses to the call for Barbados to become the entertainment capital of the Caribbean is both appalling, parochial, and at most simple. Demonstrating why our country is in the dumps with citizens who can’t see pass their rigid mindsets. I just recently returned from Barbados to Africa and when it comes to entrainment our country is no where near most countries in Africa when it comes to entertainment. Barbados has no entrainment quite frankly. Barbados is boring on weekends with the exception of a few events that’s expensive but can
    hardly be considered entertainment. Barbados entertainment today is nowhere in the league of the old days . And for those of you who are talking about foreign exchange , please, do you feel a few thousand dollars paid to a few artists is going to break the island treasury ….if that is likely we are in an even worse state than I thought. And for those whose is spreading propoganda about Barbadians becoming entertainment junkies ….are you seriously living in the real world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *