Whoever wins the title of Band Designer of the Year for Crop Over 2017, will be carrying away something extra special among the prizes — a brand new blue Mazda 2.
The car, valued at $68, 000, was unveiled at McEnearney Quality Inc. during the press launch for the Soca Royale competition earlier this week. It will go to the designer who delivers the best presentation at both Junior and Grand Kadooment.
Frances Parravicino, vice president of credit at Consolidated Finance which is sponsoring the vehicle, said it was in tribute to the late Renee Ratcliffe. Parravicino is related to the late band leader who had been pushing for designers to be recognized for their contributions with a vehicle.
This was confirmed by members of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) who were in attendance for the big announcement. President, Chetwyn Stewart, said the association was thrilled that the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) was finally fulfilling their wishes.
“This is exciting. It is a huge leap forward. It is what we have been advocating for. It puts us, if not on the same plane as calypsonians and bashment acts, at least in the same orbit,” he said.
“BAM is thrilled that today because of Renee Ratcliffe, bandleaders will have the opportunity to compete for a car for producing mas in 2017,” Stewart added.
Ratcliffe, who was much loved, fell ill and passed away doing what she enjoyed doing as the bands were parading at Grand Kadooment last year.
Veteran bandleader Gwyneth Squires also commended the Consolidated Finance for the new hatchback, saying that it “was long overdue”. The band designer, who boasts of a string of titles in a 32-year-long career, told Bajan Vibes her aim was to claim the new vehicle this year.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Stephen Lashley, told the event that the decision to offer the car was made at a meeting with BAM in May. He thanked the private sector for their contribution to Crop Over and also commended the part played by designers and bandleaders.
“I hope that your skill will not only be available to the young designers of Barbados but we are seeking to grow a cultural industry which will impact not only what we do in the region but globally,”