CDC scraps registration fees

The controversial new registration fees for Carnival participants have been scrapped and registration re-opened with the deadline extended to May 31.

This comes after a poor response to the registration process and vocal opposition from calypsonians and bandleaders sent the Carnival Development Committee (CDC) and the Minister of Culture Eleston “Namba” Adams into a flurry of meetings with stakeholders to resolve an impasse between the groups.

“All registration fees have been revoked with immediate effect. Individuals who have already registered will be refunded by the festivals office,” Adams said.

“Registration fees for all Carnival festivities will now become effective from January 15, 2012, in time for Carnival 2012,” he said, adding that registration will also reopen, free of cost, with the new deadline.

At the close of Monday’s registration deadline, only around 15 calypsonians, 40 soca artistes, and three mas’ troupes had registered, forcing the CDC to address the concerns of the groups that opposed the new fees and reopen registration.

Another point of aggravation for the Antigua & Barbuda Calypsonians Association was the prize monies for the Calypso Monarch competition, and that has also been addressed by the CDC which said it will make a big sacrifice by offering a top cash prize of $30,000 in the interest of the festival.

“The prize package for the calypso monarch competition finals for Carnival 2011 is as follows: calypso monarch, EC $30,000; first runner-up EC $24,000; second runner-up EC $22,000; all unplaced calypsonians, EC $6,670,” Adams said.

“The decisions of the CDC come as a great financial sacrifice, however, as mentioned it is all in the interest of the survival and development of the calypso art form,” Adams said.

The decision to allow 30 calypsonians to compete in the semi-finals of the competition and 12, including the reigning monarch, in the finals, an increase from previous years, has also been finalised.

President of the Calypsonians Association, Adelza “Lypstick” Sheridan praised the resolution reached with the CDC.

“We greatly appreciate that. It wasn’t an easy time but we really stood up and I don’t want to be washed away in tears because last night when we left (the meeting) I was overwhelmed … we just won something that persons thought we would not achieve,” Sheridan said.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)