Barbados Crop Over festival cancelled due to COVID-19

Rihanna at the 2019 Crop Over festival in Barbados.

There will be no Crop Over festival or National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in Barbados this year, as COVID-19 continues its spread across the globe.

The Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports announced Sunday that the two highly anticipated festivals would be replaced with two initiatives. It said Cabinet had approved its recommendation to cancel this year’s events.

“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,” it said.

“Cabinet has further agreed that the ministry, through the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), would replace the two major festivals with a national training programme in schools and communities, and a wide-reaching campaign to both fund and produce radio, television and digital content, which would be accessible across multiple delivery channels, including the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.”

The ministry added that it remains committed to its mission of creating opportunities in the cultural industries and, to this end, the NCF will soon convene a series of stakeholder consultations to discuss ways in which cultural practitioners could participate in, and benefit from, the programmes identified as replacements for the Crop Over festival and NIFCA.

The development came even as the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that four consecutive days had passed with no new confirmed COVID-19 cases. Thirty-five persons tested negative Saturday, including two who were released from isolation Sunday after two negative test results within a 48-hour period. The tally of infected persons remains at 75 out of a total of 1035 tests carried out since February 11. Barbados has recorded five deaths since April 4. There are 51 persons in isolation.