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    May 21

  • 04:09 AM

MOVING FORWARD - Kudos for making Rihanna show happen

Luigi Marshall,

Added 11 August 2011


Let me add another lash to a dying horse… After six years of not having performed in Barbados, Rihanna’s concert last Friday at Kensington Oval was an event of unique proportions. It created an incredible buzz on the island months prior to the event, and it will have an economic effect that will last well after she’s gone. Back in April, the then new chairman of the BTA, Adrian Elcock, said it had to happen under his tenure, and it did. Although a deal was likely in the works before his appointment, the subsequent agreement was still an accomplishment for which everyone involved should be congratulated. And Rihanna deserves credit as well, but not just for a performance that was by many accounts a ri-markable success, but because she had no obligation to perform here – especially not for free. I never felt Rihanna owed Barbados anything in particular other than a thank-you and a smile. Indeed, there were people and institutions that contributed to her development, but to tout those as reasons she should perform here – and for free – didn’t seem just. I firmly believe we should all give back to our communities, but I also believe people should be permitted to give as they see fit. They should not be lambasted for not giving everyone what they want. But I heard many Bajans criticize Rihanna for her seemingly unwillingness to perform at home. Further personal attacks (which were too disrespectful and libellous for me to link to) ensued with the release of her controversial S&M and Man Down videos. I wasn’t bothered by the negative views on her not performing in Barbados or on the controversial videos (last week was the first time I bothered to watch them in full and I found them creative). She’s a commercial artiste and criticisms – both positive and negative – of her work are to be expected.  But I found the personal attacks went over the top. Yes, a concert would’ve been great as it had been a long time since her 2005 performance at home, but when was the last time you went to work for free? When was the last time you volunteered in your community? How would you like for your character to be maligned by your countrymen and countrywomen for failing to do so? I haven’t travelled the world, but I heard more Rihanna bashing here in Barbados than anywhere else I’ve been. I’m sure wherever she was, she was hearing it too. Let he who is without sin... But I guess it’s true to whom much is given, much is expected, and although she no doubt worked hard for her success, she was surely given much in the way of opportunities. Still, despite the hefty criticisms, Ri-Ri agreed to perform at home (maybe it was always part of the plan). And she agreed to do so for free. How’s that for character? And I bet there were many people who spoke against her character that still went to the show. I, however, did not go to the show. Alas, while it seemed like a national holiday, I was at work, right across the street at Nation House. But I appreciated the show all the same. Bajans were able to see an international-calibre concert and Rihanna was able to put some of the criticisms against her to rest. It was a moment that she too appreciated, evidenced by when she thanked the crowd and tweeted her love for Barbados. Now that it’s over, many concerns with the overall production of the event are being voiced. The criticisms are well-warranted and should serve as lessons to be learned for next time. But hindsight is 20-20, and could we reasonably have expected a show of a magintude never before seen in Barbados to go off without a hitch (we couldn’t even get the scheduling right for Outrageous in Red and Cohobblopot)? Ultimately, the return on investment on the LOUD concert can’t be denied. If 4 000 people came to Barbados for the concert and – in addition to their ticket purchase – each spent a conceivable $1 000 while here, that’s  four million dollars pumped into the Barbados economy. No, the BTA doesn’t need anybody telling them how to capitalize on this. Rihanna is an undeniable international success, so it’s easy to see the promotional value of her Coming Home documentary will be worth every penny spent. In an admittedly unscientific poll, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy once said that many Brazilians know of Rihanna but do not know of Barbados. Well, they do now. And so do many others. Rihanna’s concert brought in some much-needed foreign exchange and gave Barbados some priceless global exposure. As we all continue to offer constructive criticism to this discussion, let’s keep in mind that never before had Barbados seen a show of that scale and it couldn’t have been easy to put off. So, I tip my hat to everyone – be they tourism officials, promoters, stage assemblers, stage personnel, security officers, vendors, bartenders, waiters, or clean-up crew  – and especially Rihanna, who was directly or indirectly involved in the event that will bring benefits to all. I look forward to the next big event and the current Rihanna buzz being put to rest. At the very least, it would mean an end to all the headlines with the word “LOUD” in them.   Special note: On the night of the concert, a colleague and I took a break and went in front of Nation House to watch the impressive flow of concertgoers making their way into The Oval. A police officer was stationed there and my colleague pointed out the officer’s professionalism as he directed traffic and pleasantly answered a constant flow of questions from concertgoers. I had to agree. I regret not getting the officer’s name to mention here.   Email: luigimarshall@nationnews.com  Twitter: @luigimarshall   


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