Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Calypsonians are now back onboard and have withdrew a plan to boycott this year's calypso show following a meeting Thursday, July 12 with Education and Culture Minister, Hon. Myron Walwyn to resolve a number of pressing issues.
Reigning two-time monarch, Luther Butler whose stage moniker is 'Luther B', told BVI Platinum News that "most of the issues have been resolved in the spirit of compromise".
Twelve calypsonians had signed a petition and submitted it to the committee, hoping to have the issues resolved. Among those signing the petition were Luther B, King Henry, Reddo, Sistah Joyce, Queen Makisha, Ojinga, Mighty Cloud, Mighty Rockey, Rankin Joey, Nazarene, Shamazz and Mighty KP.
Butler said that the most contentious issue was the provision of monies to persons who do not make it past the elimination show. According to Butler, it was agreed that the calypsonians who do not make it to the finals will be paid a music production fee of $500.
"It's not a performance fee or an honorarium," he explained.
He said that for those who make the finals, but do not place, they will be paid $700. Originally, the calypsonians were seeking $1,000; however, Butler said that the calypsonians settled for the $700 because the Festivals and Fairs Committee explained that they will not be able to budget for $1,000 due to financial constraints.
Another contentious issue prior to the meeting with the Minister was the requirement for all calpsonians to enter the competition with two new songs. In previous years, some calypsonians have performed at least one song from the Virgin Gorda show at the Road Town competition.
Butler said that the calypsonians were not able to gain any ground on the issue of the two new songs because the Festivals and Fairs Committee said they will stick with their ruling and not allow any songs from the Virgin Gorda show to be used at the Road Town show.
"In the spirit of compromise, we have to give and we have to take. Unfortunately, we could not get that point across, but we were hoping that they would allow at least one song from Virgin Gorda. We were never asking for two songs from Virgin Gorda because we knew very well that they wanted to keep the show fresh. You want something proper and want to keep the fans excited with something new," Butler stated.
As it relates to the issue of providing payment for the monarch to perform at Festivals and Fairs events, Butler said that issue has also been resolved.
It was explained to BVI Platinum News that the Festivals and Fairs Committee wanted the monarch to perform free at all their events. Butler said that the monarch will now be paid a negotiable fee if the show features international performers and there is a gate fee being charged for the show.
In relation to the length of songs, Butler said that the Festivals and Fairs Committee has lifted its requirement that the song must have at least four verses. He said that the calypsonians were able to convince the committee that three verses would be sufficient because based on the formatting of the songs, the three verses could be very lengthy.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Butler said that the calpsonians withdrew the issue of notifying the committee about performing overseas.
"All the gentlemen who signed the petition, including the 10 who were affected by the provisions, we are all onboard now and we are ready to perform," Butler stated.
Prior to the meeting with the Minister, Sistah Joyce had already signalled her intention to perform despite signing the petition.
BVI Platinum News could not immediately confirm if Queen Makisha plans to participate in this year's event.
"This is really a victory for calypso and I must commend the Minister for intervening and finding a way to reach some compromise on the issues. These issues were reasonable issues and had they been addressed earlier at the festival committee level, in a reasonable compromising fashion, we would not have reached this point. For the sake of calypso and for the love of calypso, we should be having the show and the festival committee will announce the dates for the show," Butler stated.
No official dates have been announced, but BVI Platinum News understands that the committee is considering an elimination show for July 28 and a finals show for August 1.
"I just want to send a warning to all my competitors...get ready," Butler warned.
On July 1, the calypsonians met and a framework for a VI Calypso Association was formulated.