Two major Barbados festivals - Crop Over and NIFCA - have been cancelled for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on international travel.
The cancellation of Crop Over is another bitter blow for the local tourism sector which typically welcomes thousands of guests (both international visitors and Bajans living in the diaspora) for the summer festival each year. This will have a major impact on hotels and other accommodations, car rental companies and restaurants. Also heavily affected are musicians and event promoters for whom Crop Over is the most significant revenue generating period.
The loss of NIFCA for 2020 most impacts the creative industries on the island, as the festival’s focus is to showcase local visual and creative arts talent.
The We Gatherin Barbados 2020, which was off to an excellent start in January and February, has also been impacted by COVID-19.
On a positive note, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has indicated that monies allotted for the festivals will instead be chanelled into producing local cultural content to be distributed through various radio, TV and digital channels.
The cancellations were announced by the NCF in the following press release:
2020 CROP OVER AND NIFCA CANCELLATION
Sunday, April 19, 2020
The Cabinet of Barbados at its meeting of Thursday, April 16th approved a recommendation of the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports to cancel the 2020 Crop Over Festival and National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).
This decision was made in light of ongoing global efforts to contain and manage the COVID – 19 pandemic as well as Government’s negative short term projections for the local economy, regional and international travel and trade and weakened public confidence in attending mass gatherings in the current environment and immediately thereafter.
Cabinet further agreed that the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, through the National Cultural Foundation will replace the two major festivals this year with a national training programme in schools and communities, and a wide-reaching campaign to both fund and produce radio, television and digital content that will be accessible across multiple delivery channels including the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
The Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports remains committed to its mission of the creation of opportunities in the cultural industries and in pursuit of this objective the National Cultural Foundation will shortly convene a series of stakeholder consultations to discuss ways in which cultural practitioners can participate in, and benefit from, the programmes identified to replace Crop Over and NIFCA.