ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Carnival Development Committee (CDC) Chairman Kayode O’Marde said the new stipend-criteria for the Calypso Monarch competition is expected to incentivise the resurgence of calypso tents.
The CDC, this year, will provide calypsonians with a stipend of $250, but only if they perform at at least three calypso tents.
O’Marde said last year calypsonians got the stipend for taking part in the quarterfinals, causing some to abandon the tents altogether.
“There are a lot of calypsonians that don’t show up in the tents until its quarterfinals. They know they are the big names, they know they have the talent to take them through; so you don’t see them for the entire season,” he said.
O’Marde said the change was an attempt to use an incentive, rather than a penalty, to encourage calypsonians to take part in the tents in the weeks leading up to the big show.
“It was just a way for us to try and get the tents alive, and get them back in the tents,” he said.
Concerns have been voiced that requiring tent participation was unfair to calypsonians because many tents opened very late in the season. O’Marde said tents opened late because calypsonians were not participating, a situation he hopes will now be changed.
“The reason tents were opening late is because nobody was there. Nobody was coming to practice. Calypsonians weren’t releasing their music early. So the tents really couldn’t operate if only five people are performing,” he said.
The CDC chairman said the calypso association needs to find ways to boost interest in calypso as its popularity has been waning.
Meanwhile, O’Marde also noted that $50 of the stipend will automatically be withheld for a calypso association membership fee. He said the CDC prefers to negotiate with the association on the calypsonians’ behalf.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)