No space? Find a hotel
By Ricky Jordan | Mon, May 21, 2012 - 12:00 AM
The shortage of venues for calypso tents has long been a bugbear in Crop Over and this year is no exception.
Since under 250 calypsonians in such a small island need to segment themselves into at least ten tents – one season spawned a ridiculous high of 14! – there’s bound to be a space problem.
There are simply too many tents for a country that only enjoys its own calypso and soca for six weeks per year; and all arguments to the contrary are driven by small-minded agendas.
If three tents average crowds of 500 per night, while six struggle to get the tent managers’ families to come and the other three sometimes don’t bother to open more than two nights because nobody comes, then those entities are a classic example of capitalism gone mad.
But who cares as long as some Crop Over personalities exploit this time of year to complain about venues and other issues in the media?
Of course, I’m not referring to Peter Boyce, whose call for the Globe as a tent venue option raised yet another matter: the glaring lack of a nexus between the performance aspect of Crop Over and tourism.
Yes, tourists come to play mas’ in skimpy costumes, but how can we get our live music to them?
It’s wonderful to talk the idea of a tourism-entertainment synergy, which seems to have eluded us within the last 30 years as a result of all-inclusive packages, but ask yourself: do any of our calypso monarchs get to perform before an audience of visitors during or, worse, after Crop Over?
By the time the last note of Kadooment is struck from ubiquitous music trucks on Spring Garden Highway, Gabby and Red Plastic Bag are set to go on tour, followed by krosfyah.
The consolation is that there are some hotel and nightclub bands which capture the attention of pockets of tourists year-round, but if we claim that calypso is “we ting” and can pontificate on the rudiments of it, where can a tourist come to see Bag, Gabby, Kid Site, Edwin, Alison or TC? Do visitors have to go to Eastern Parkway?
Seriously, the hotels can get on board in this quest for venues, and some National Cultural Foundation board members who have strong ties to the Barbados Tourism Authority and hotel sector can make it happen.
Too many hotel conference rooms and spaces remain underutilized when they can, for six short weeks, host artistes who drive the festival.
There’s also a belief that the hotels don’t truly want tents on their property; but how could any hotel’s management be ashamed of Barbadian culture yet allow oft-times drunken voices into their karaoke sessions at least once per week?
Of course, there are disadvantages in hosting tents in hotels, including late starts, poor sound quality, and the lack of proper changing rooms. But these can be improved.
The gains could include enhancement of the hotels’ product, exposure for artistes, a chance for curious visitors to see top Barbadian soca and kaiso exponents live, another forum outside of Oistins for tourists to mingle with Bajans, and goodwill in the community. These are gains money cannot buy.
If tents continue to go to the same old venues and school halls, they will attract the same audience, which keeps declining. It’s time to try a different route – and hotels would be a great start.
A question to Opposition Leader Owen Arthur: while your cure for the economy sounds plausible on paper, how will you as the next Prime Minister, based on yesterday’s CADRES poll, conduct your “first order of business” without laying off people in the public sector?
Since you see Government’s domestic borrowing to pay public servants as runaway expenditure, it stands to reason that cutting people from the payroll would save Barbados millions of dollars. Can you say if this is the intention of the next Government?
Will we see a repeat of the week-on/week-off policies of 1994 to ease the dislocation that may be necessary to jump-start the economy?
At the risk of sounding rhetorical, which agencies will be the sacrificial lambs? The Transport Board, Barbados Water Authority, Sanitation Service Authority or National Conservation Commission?
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