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It’s now up to cultural entrepreneurs


shadiasimpson, [email protected]

It’s now up to cultural entrepreneurs

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IT?HAS?BEEN?a season of spectacle for us in?Barbados over the past two months, from the celebration of the inscription of Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison to the Season Of Emancipation and, of course, the grandest show of them all, the 2012 Crop Over Festival, which will formally end today with the big Grand Kadooment.
All this theatre is taking place in Bimshire at a time of major economic challenges and a controversial downgrade by international rating agency Standard & Poor’s, as well as a time when the country will soon prepare for another type of show: politicians on stage in the general election campaign.
With the significance of the UNESCO designation of Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison, we can only hope that this heritage attraction will add to the factors luring visitors to the island, as has been the case with Crop Over.
Indeed, we need to do more with Crop Over, both as a springboard for those involved in the various facets of the festival and as a vehicle to promote the country and its people’s talents. It can be safely stated that in another two months the highpoints of this year’s Crop Over season – the music emanating from the Party Monarch, Sweet Soca and Pic-O-De-Crop competitions – will be nothing more than a memory for most Barbadians since they will generally be overlooked and forgotten.
True, much of what has been produced is too seasonal and domestic in outlook and will not interest people beyond our shores. This makes little sense, given the size of our markets. In this vein, we must agree with head of the Performing Arts Department of the Barbados Community College, Roger Gittens, who said in an interview in yesterday’s SUNDAY SUN: “. . . If you are going to talk about a music industry, you have to have persons produce music that speaks to themes that are international, that wherever you are you can relate to.
” Then there is entrepreneur Phil Phillips, who, writing in the latest edition of the Barbados Business Authority, made the valid point that “. . . we can no longer embrace an internal love affair with Crop Over with the partners only Barbadians here or in the diaspora”.
The issue for us is how do we differentiate ourselves from the other clashing summer festivals across the region and capitalize on the possibilities, exploring the business opportunities for our artistes to take their creative skills beyond our shores and making the festival a spectacle that many more people from across the world would want to come here at this time of year for a taste of Barbados.
While the National Cultural Foundation must continue its role of enabling the development of the festival, it is really up to the entrepreneurs in the cultural industries who must now take the risk. The rewards can be great, to both country and self.

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