by Eugene Gittens
Please permit me a voice on your platform to join the many established and new soca and groovy artistes in Grenada in disagreeing with the announced move to reduce the number of finalists in the Spicemas 2019 Power and Groovy Soca Monarch competitions to only 10 participants (including the current monarch).
While I have the greatest respect for those making this decision namely our Minister of Culture, Senator the Hon. Norland Cox and our new Chairman of the Spicemas Corporation, Kelvin Jacob, and know that their intentions are good, I think there is a need to revisit the decision.
Let us examine the two reasons given for this change:
- Complaints by patrons that the shows are too long
- Falling in line with other regional competitions (paraphrased)
Reason # 1
While I agree that the shows (especially the power soca monarch) have been a bit drawn out in past years, I believe that reducing the finalists from 16 last year to 10 this year is a bit extreme. Alternatively, I think we need to find a good in-between balance which does not deny opportunities to deserving artistes.
In addition, there are many other things that can be done to reduce the length of the shows. Chief among them is better production and enforced time limits on skits, video presentations, and performances. For example, some artistes spend way too much time on stage trying to get the crowd to follow their instructions, wave and now run with something. If time limits are imposed and the production is right, this would open up space for more artistes, without overextending the shows.
I do not see any reason why we have to follow or fall in line with the number of finalists in other regional competitions. We are obviously doing something right already in Grenada as our artistes are among the best in the region, evidenced by their successes at the recent International Soca and Groovy Monarchs in Trinidad. What that might just have been over the years was ensuring enough opportunities at the highest levels of competition for all deserving artistes.
With the plethora of brand new, young and very talented artistes emerging in 2019 (obviously inspired by the Trinidad wins), I am calling on the Minister of Culture and the Head of the Spicemas Corporation to kindly reconsider their decision and I would like to recommend a compromise of 12 finalists minimum (with the defending monarch either added to that number or included). This will give a few more artistes the opportunity of being on one of our biggest carnival stages and help in the continued development of our culture and artform.
Eugene Gittens is a former head of the Grenada National Commission for UNESCO, talent search organiser, music producer, artiste support and development advisor and carnival judge.