As part of Barbados’ National Event Strategy (NES), entertainment licensing rules will be simplified in the run-up to Crop Over, Prime Minister Mia Mottley promised.
Promoters have been complaining for some time that red tape and delays have forced them to cancel some shows.
Mottley said that from now on the National Cultural Foundation will be the one-stop shop for Crop Over entertainments licences. Speaking at Saturday’s unveiling of the newly named Mighty Grynner Highway, the PM said: “I don’t believe that you should have to go through hell in this country to be able to do a simple thing as to help us celebrate this festival.”
Under the NES, responsibility for licensing is to be shifted from the police commissioner, fire officer and town planner to the Department of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce (SBEC). As he announced the change in March, SBEC Minister Dwight Sutherland said: “This entertainment licence is intended to facilitate the ease of doing business for event promoters and planners.” Seasonal and multi-year licences will be available from next year.
The move reflects a change from the authorities viewing entertainment as something that needs to be controlled and restricted to seeing it as an opportunity to be embraced. These days, it is a vital sector in the country’s leisure and tourism economy.
The old approach embodies some of the colonial-era attitudes that carried over into many of Britain’s former colonies after independence. For example, it was only recently that Seychelles abolished an anti-drumming law that effectively made the government’s own carnival illegal!
Barbados also plans to chase the global entertainment dollar through a talent show. Baje to the World aims to identify and support “world-leaders” in “singing, dancing, visual arts or magic”. The Community Development Department has joined forces with the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment (YCE) to run 15 events across the country for nine months at an estimated initial cost of $500,000. It’s hoped that sponsors will come on board and increase funding.
According to Barbados Today, contestants of four years and older will be able to audition to be a part of the talent show. The winner will be offered an opportunity to perform at Britain’s Got Talent. YCE minister Adrian Forde said: “Barbados must be able to produce the next Rihanna, the next Rupee, the next Ambassador Mighty Gabby, Ambassador RPB. We already know that we have the talent to do this.”