Red flag


The manager of a popular Crop Over band is warning that the high cost of Kadooment costumes is driving locals away from participating in the big jump-up.

The caution had come from Jason Zeddo, of Fantasy, who called for Government assistance to make costumes more affordable for Barbadians.

“When I did my research, I found that the number of locals has dropped significantly. Every year it is dropping by the hundreds. We are saying ‘oh, Crop Over is getting bigger, they’re a lot more international revellers’. Yes, a lot more people are coming from overseas, but the ones that are coming are actually replacing the locals that have dropped out from playing mas on Kadooment Day,” he contended in an interview with Barbados TODAY.

“The numbers for Kadooment in 2009 [were] at 20,000 masqueraders. Last year in 2016, it was 11,000. That means there was a 9,000 drop in people playing mas. That’s a big drop!”

Reacting to the recent announcement that the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) would receive a $50,000 increase in its subvention this year, Zeddo said that was a step in the right direction, but insisted that a lot more needed to be done to keep prices low enough to attract revellers.

“Obviously someone in Government has an ear and we have someone’s attention, but we still need to do a lot more in concessions and bringing in items and so on. I would hope that Government realizes how much money bandleaders are leaking out every year to make this festival a success, in terms of the worldwide recognition it’s getting now,” he said.

Jason Zeddo & Anthony Layne

“We need some support from the Government. Around Crop Over, all the hotels are full. You can’t find a hired car in Barbados in the week leading up to Kadooment. Everyone is eating piece of the pie; the bandleaders want to eat some as well.”

Earlier this week, during the annual Crop Over media briefing, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley promised to address some of the issues raised by BAM, including the slow pace of benefits being accessed under the Cultural Industries Development Act, which was designed to alleviate several of the masqueraders’ concerns, including the importation of the inputs for costumes.

“I want to have that particular part of the legislation resonating and creating the benefits in the shortest possible time,” Lashley had said.

Zeddo, in response, argued that there should be no more delay.

“If something isn’t going to happen soon, Crop Over as we know it is going to die, because bandleaders are going to run out of money and they are going to say they can’t afford to bring a band anymore,” he cautioned.

He told Barbados TODAY that as a band manager, he was playing his part this year to ensure that prices are not out of reach of Barbadian revellers.

“Our least expensive costume is US$367.50 (BDS$735) – that’s for our backlines; that’s affordable. I can strongly say we have one of the least expensive backlines. What me and my designer have done this year, we have tried to make the band a lot more affordable especially for locals,” he explained.

“I have turned the backline into a midline [and] give you . . . at a backline cost, but then I’ve brought in a whole new backline and priced it at US$367.50, which is very affordable. So, instead of a masquerader saying ‘I can’t afford a costume’ and staying at the side of the road, they can jump,” Zeddo added, saying that the band was getting great response from locals.

Fellow bandleader Anthony Layne, of Kontact, said he too ensured that his costumes remained reasonably priced, especially for Barbadians.

“We have maintained our costume prices for the last three years or so. We have costumes . . . around BDS$600. Our prices are quite reasonable,” he said, stressing that Barbadians should not be forgotten as they are the ones who carry the festival.

“When the overseas people can’t come for whatever reason or the other, then you would have to depend on the locals. It’s very much a local event, more so than for outsiders. We want the outsiders to come, yes, but it’s also very important that the locals attend as well. In comparison to previous year, the locals have dropped off,” Layne said, supporting Zeddo’s argument.

12 Responses to Red flag

  1. Anne Ince
    Anne Ince May 26, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Yeah, right….!!!!!

  2. Andrena Ceasar
    Andrena Ceasar May 26, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Even if the government give wanna money ain’t going to make a difference wanna greedy

  3. Hardli May 26, 2017 at 7:44 am

    It’s an insane cost for what really is a cheap costume… we did it last year but there is no way we spending all that money again on what should be far less to get involved. Barbados is just such an expensive country for almost everything…. it’s got no real value for money for anything now.

  4. Peter May 26, 2017 at 8:44 am

    These costume bands make lots of money then cry out they’re losing. Simple fact. If they were not making money they would not stay in the business. They form an association, meet and device ways and methods of how to fleece revelers. Through ways of marketing, …… Internet advertising and promotions, payment plans, word of mouth and medias. Imagine one costume consisting of a skimpy cheap underwear bought at US$ 3.00 each available in regular sizes…. S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, mixed sizes, Breast sizes are selective and can be varied. some cheap colored make-up and body paint, wash off tattoos et al
    It costs them an average US D 15.00, they sell it for US$ 3oo.oo and up, ask a mandatory Bds $ 300 deposit which more than covers their costume costs, then the rest is required to be paid off within 90 days. If it remains unpaid then that reveler is blacklisted and the name circulated to all the band operators within the association. What revelers need to do is demand invoices and receipts, submit it to the NCF who then submits it to a special BRA department. Once legitimate, the NCF is refunded 25% which they will use towards the following year’s Crop Over costs et al.

    • CostumeBae May 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      I applaud your willingness to make suggestions to improve our festival. People often criticize and don’t offer any ideas. But that’s where our agreement ends.
      Here is a simple fact for you. Bands are a business like any other. Some years bands will make money, other years they will break-even and yes even sometimes incur losses. Whether a band is successful financially in any given year depends on a number of factors, just like any other business. Many band leaders continue to operate for the love of the business as well as for the culture.
      In crafting my response it’s quite clear that you are misinformed or choose to remain ignorant to the business of bands. Your assumption as to the production cost is so woefully off the mark, I almost felt it was pointless to try to explain the cost to you in this forum. As an example, one (1) gem of a particular style can cost $3.00, the cost can multiply if it’s sourced locally. That’s one gem. So your calculation as to the costume cost is inaccurate. The fact remains that both local and international revellers have demanded that the designs improve. A consumer that has jumped in a big band in Trinidad or Canada is not going to settle for anything less than that standard, when they have to come all the way to Barbados and pay flights, hotels etc. The market has changed and the bands have had to adapt to that demand. Beautiful costumes are expensive.

      But you only focused on the costume. What about the DJs, the artist, the trucks, the premium unlimited drinks, the security (private as well the police), the food etc. In criticizing this business it’s so easy to just look at the price of the costume and not factor in all of the additional cost. You have fallen in this trap as well. I don’t blame you, this is how it has always been. It’s so simple to cry “Dem Greedy”…it’s the easy way out. If people would take a little more time to understand the business and more band leaders try to educate, then perhaps there would be less people like you making such erroneous statements.

      As far as blackballing people that do not collect costumes. This is not practical. People end up not jumping for a myriad of reasons: missed flights, illness, lost their job so can’t pay the balance…it’s life, how do you punish people for wanting to be a part of our festival? It’s a risk bands take and yes, even have to absorb on a yearly basis (see factors that can impact on loss) Could you imagine having a deposit of $50 or $25? Just think about how many people would cancel on those costumes if they were only losing that amount. The deposit is there, because as a business you have to plan, you have to plan for the meals, the security and all other aspects as if the person is coming. They have to mitigate against massive losses, just like any other business does.

      None of these bands are big corporations. All of these bands started with a simple love for our festival and a willingness to contribute. Look at the majority of the band leaders today. Young people. Some of the same young entrepreneurs that we in this country are so desperately seeking to step forward and do more.

      Let’s not even talk about all of the ancillary businesses that benefit from the bands. The lighting technicians, the sound people, the food providers.

      The problem is, we do not see bands as a business. We see it as a party thing, a fun thing, entertainment. It’s the reason why we continue to struggle with the arts in this country. If we don’t wake up soon, the other islands are going to take over as the preferred place to revel outside of T&T and Labour Day.

  5. Milli Watt May 26, 2017 at 9:51 am

    not a cent to you lot……….import the material from china at cents on the dollar and sell at dollars on the dollar. Jump in tshirts if it expensive or else go look for a real job ssstttuuuupppssseeee every thing wunnah hand always begging and tax payers paying.

  6. Milli Watt May 26, 2017 at 9:55 am

    @ peter you are correct went on line to source the pieces and did dun wid dat………Barbadians must keep dey money in dey pockets. yuh goin need it. Tourism for visitors let dem trick de tourist

  7. Jason Zeddo May 26, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Do your research and get back to me . Road cost for food, drinks trucks , security, Djs,sound, etc…. all of that determines the costume price.

  8. Bajan Cherry May 26, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Yes Peter you are so right ….NOT, I bought a dress from China for $12.00 sounded cheap enough I was pleased with myself however the shipping on that stupid dress cost me 70.00us, then DHL/customs charged me duty not based on the cost of the dress but on the freight as well. It was an eye opener for me because I did not want to pay 110.00bds for the dress in Bridgetown. I think you have left out some important variables in the pricing you noted above, which myself as a neophyte on bringing items into this country did not take into consideration.

  9. Biscuits May 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    It ‘s hard to empathise with the ‘bikini bands brigade’.
    You went into this as a viable business and are now complaining because your profit margin has been reduced. Obviously this was bound to happen with more people (bands) looking to share the ‘pot’.

  10. Anne May 26, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Hmmm… And tourism is our main industry because…? I say let us do all we can to attract foreigners to our shores during the festival. The people who arent participating in the festival are surely on the sidelines buying local eats and drinks from vendors so everyone benefits. If you produce poor quality costumes, the locals will complain as well. Get as many visitors in as possible!

  11. Laura May 26, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    None of you know what you’re speaking about. Bands DO NOT make money. The margins, believe it or not, are extremely low and profits are barely much to run the band. Sponsors are reluctant to sponsor, band house rent is through the roof (having a band house is now a huge loss as most sales are done online), paying staff in the band house, giving away costumes to the models, the list goes on. Ask veteran, Chetwyn Stewart or Richard Haynes if you really want experienced people to tell you how much the bands REALLY make.


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