Sunday, April 21, 2024

EDITORIAL: Honour Renee with better deal for bands

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ON MONDAY this country lost one of its bright sparks who has contributed significantly to the cultural landscape.

The designs and creativity of bandleader Renee Ratcliffe had become a staple at Crop Over, producing bands not only for Grand Kadooment, but also Junior Kadooment.

The news of Ratcliffe’s sudden death sent shock waves through the National Stadium on Monday when revellers learnt that she had collapsed and was later pronounced dead at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

For viewers watching the spectacle of the climax of Crop Over on CBC TV 8 that day, it was no less of a shock as minutes before her death they would have witnessed the 40-year-old bandleader crossing the stage with her band Jump Promotions Happy Go Lucky.

It was to be Ratcliffe’s last mas and on television when she was interviewed she wished everyone a happy Kadooment. The irony of the name of the band would have struck a chord for many as Ratcliffe was known to exude a zest and passion for life which was summed up by her family and her fellow bandleaders as they paid tribute to her life.

Her passing is no doubt a loss to this country and to the cultural industry.

In an interview with a NATION reporter just before parading before the judges on Kadooment Day, Ratcliffe complained about the failure of bandleaders to get the concessions promised to Kadooment bands by Government.

Her exact words were: “We were promised VAT exemptions and we have not got them yet. Even if we paid five per cent of VAT, that would be fine. But this 17.5 or 20 per cent on costumes, that is ridiculous. We want the culture to last, we want it to keep going on and by implementing such high duties on the bands, this is our culture, this is something we are trying to keep going, so they have got to lighten up on us.”

Ratcliffe’s last words were a fight for bandleaders to get a better deal.

Her plea must not fall by the wayside. We, therefore, urge officials to honour her memory and do better by this country’s bandleaders and those who contribute so much to this industry.

Often we take the creativity and the talent that is poured into designs that help to make Crop Over, and more specifically Kadooment, the spectacle that it is.

With the untimely passing of Renee Ratcliffe let us use this as a time to properly reflect not only on her contribution to the festival over the years, but also the contributions others have made over the years and continue to make.

et us not only pay tribute to their creativity, but also recognise the sacrifices they make to lift the standards in the industry.

Many have said that Ratcliffe died doing what she loved doing most, having just completed her bands for this year’s festival. Let us honour her memory and continue to improve the standard of the Crop Over Festival.

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