Friday, April 12, 2024

Ease us now!

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“WE DO NOT want it next year. We want it now!” Those were the comments of president of the Barbados Association of Tent Managers (BATMAN), Sinclair Gittens, in response to the Minister of Community Development and Culture Steve Blackett’s decision to decrease Valued Added Tax (VAT) for the tent managers and bandleaders. Gittens, who said they welcomed the decision to have a decrease, noted that overhead costs were not going down, and they were being forced to spend money “before we could even make money”.Heard pleasBlackett, speaking to WEEKEND NATION at the launch of the Visual Arts Festival, said he had heard the pleas and all the suggestions from those in the cultural industries, and would be making representation to the Minister of Finance on their behalf, but noted however, that the relief would not be in time for Crop-Over 2010.But Gittens said they had already written a letter to the Minister of Finance to request a meeting, and felt that something could be done sooner.“Next year we could look at putting a permanent solution into place, but we have to get something done this year,” he said.The tent managers were previously given a subvention of $16 000, which this year was cut to just a “participation fee” of $7 000. According to some tent managers, it was not enough.Not competingTent manager Harvey “Pop” Daniel of Tornadoes which is not competing this year, said Government’s decision to stop the subvention has now placed them (tent managers) in a state of “impecuniosity”.“How can they stop the subvention fees? They can do better than that because Crop-Over is a national festival and the protagonists must be respected and treated accordingly,” he said.Daniel said the tents were “the engines that ran Crop Over, and calypso music, so they should bea part of the festival and they should be compensated for the work that they do.”He admitted that it was not easy to run a tent, especially a small one, but said he would be back next year.“In Barbados there is a big thing about big and small tents. They don’t really check for the small tents but it is the smaller tents that have very good social commentary,” he noted.

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