Top soca bards want CDC to review fees

Soca artiste Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The two leading soca artistes here are threatening to boycott this year’s Soca Monarch competition and possibly take the sting out of the event over EC$20,000 top prize and other monies the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) pays artistes.

Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle and reigning monarch Delroy “Fyahman” Hooper on Wednesday called on the CDC to review the appearance fees and prizes paid to Soca Monarch finalists.

Skinny said in a statement that while patronage and ticket prices have increased over the past seven years, monies paid to artistes have not.

But CDC chair Dennis Ambrose also said Wednesday that appearance fees were discussed earlier this year with all components of Carnival and it was understood and agreed that it is not feasible to increase prize monies at this time.

“It would be irresponsible and unfair for the CDC to now undertake to increase Prize monies to a single Component ONLY. It was also agreed that this particular matter can be carried over into discussions for 2013,” Ambrose said in a press statement.

But it seems that Skinny and Fyahman really meant business with their handshake earlier this year that signalled the burying of the hatchet.

The soca monarchy has alternated between the two artistes over the past few years triggering rivalry between the artistes and their fans.

But this time, they are united in their call for the CDC to review the monetary returns to artistes in the show.

Further, Skinny in his statement called on his and Fyahman’s fans to stop being “disrespectful and unnecessarily harsh in their expressions of support for either artiste.

“… to love one is not to automatically hate the other,” he said in the statement, which described as “a serious issue” the size of appearance fees paid to the soca bards even as Skinny said his participation in the event is not about the prize money but “about the pride”.

“It is an outlet through which I have played out my creative visions.”

He said attendance at the show over the past seven years has been increasing and that the CDC has upped ticket prizes several times from EC$25 to EC$45.

At the same time, Skinny said, artistes have been investing in more “sophisticated and costly productions in an effort to improve their own presence on stage and by extension the overall glamour of the event”.

According to him, artistes have been paying more for dancers, costumes, a driver, backstage help, and pyrotechnics effects.

“In this equation, it seems the only thing that hasn’t gone up is the reward we get for doing our part,” he said but added that he was “NOT holding our carnival or Soca Monarch hostage over prize money issues…

“[M]y biggest draw to Soca Monarch will always be the fans who support and encourage me to continue,” Skinny said.

He added that his comments ahead of the release were “more about my personal and internal debate on if the stress and financial strain of preparing [the Soca Monarch competition] alongside my Kids Fair and Black Rave project was worth it”.

According to Skinny, “another discouraging factor is how aggressive” his and Fyahman’s fans have become towards each other.

“I hate the tribalism. I hate the Gully vs Gaza factor,” he said in reference to rivalry between supporters of two entertainment entities in Jamaica.

“To like [Fyahman] in some persons minds is to hate Skinny and vice versa. I do not wish to perpetuate this destructive mind set because in the end we are all one nation and one people fighting to make our mark in the Caribbean and the world where music is concerned,” the artiste further wrote.

Reigning Soca Monarch Delroy “Fyahman” Hooper.

Skinny said he and Fyahman “recognize the efforts of the CDC to manage and improve carnival and all its components” and added that he was not “trying to undermine anybody’s work or rally a movement against any organization.

(Read also: Fyahman, Brother Ebony star in calypso Semis discussion)

“I see and acknowledge the challenges they face especially with reduced funding. However, we are asking that the same level of acknowledgement be given to the soca acts who spend their time effort and money to pull off the greatest show on earth.

“As for the CDC, we trust that a consolation commensurate with our perpetual efforts will be [arrived at] and that Carnival and Soca Monarch will be sweet as usual.”

Skinny said it was “the MEDIA that used the word ‘BOYCOTT’ to describe our call for discussions with CDC.

“… my initial hint about my uncertainty towards Soca Monarch was Never about ‘boycotting’ anything…

“The objective of the discussion was to air a few concerns in hopes of making the competition beneficial to all the stakeholders,” Skinny’s statement said.

CDC responsible to entire Carnival: Ambrose 

Chair of the Carnival Development Corporation, Dennis Ambrose.

But Ambrose further said that the CDC’s is responsible for the management of the entire carnival.

“… and though it is quite obvious that the Soca Monarch Show is much better patronized than a number of our other Shows, we must always consider the VINCY MAS Festival in its entirety – including the development of the infrastructure and innovations,” he said as he emphasised the costs of marketing and promoting Vincy Mas.

“The CDC applauds the efforts of all Soca artistes as well as the other Components. We seek to continue to work harmoniously and constructively with each of them to bring VINCY MAS to the level to which it has risen and aspires to further the growth of the Festival,” Ambrose further said in the statement Wednesday.

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6 thoughts on “Top soca bards want CDC to review fees

  1. if only public servants could stand up like Skinny & Fireman,but they tekking what they get cause 3 >7

    Posted by Jahu | June 21, 2012, 07:53
  2. Its a fact that an increase in prize monies and appearances fees will go a long way but we need to look at the bigger picture and be pragmatic about this situation.

    Carnival is based on the following components; Mas, Calypso and Pan (in order of importance). without these there is no carnival. An increase to the soca bards would seem unfair to the other components if they are not also given an increase as well. But the bigger picture is,

    1. what would be the total incremental cost of giving increases across the board for all components?

    2. Can the CDC afford this increase without affecting other aspects of the carnival?

    Lets not forget that rural carnivals have significantly increased over the past 10 or so years and they too will need assistance from the CDC. Should we cut back on them so that soca bards can get their increase?

    I heard rumours flying around that if the soca bards were given increases in prize monies alone the some components would consider opting out of carnival in protest. I am not supporting holding the CDC ransom but what is good for the goose should be good for the gander.

    For example the CDC for over 20yrs have been giving $50,000 in total to pan for prize monies to be shared up however they can based on number fo bands appearing. So the YPM use to give prizes of $15,000, $12,000, $10,000 and the remainder shared up as an appearance fee. This was not feasable since the large bands will spend upwards of $20,000 just to prepare for panorama in order to give a good account of themselves. Dont the pan men deserve an increase too?

    Posted by John | June 21, 2012, 09:19
  3. This news is not accurate when u say the artiste are Boycotting – this is highly incorrect. Please refrain from saying this. Gamal and Delroy have not threatened to boycott anything. The artistes are in negotiation with the CDC to improve conditions in the Soca Monarch.

    Posted by Alex Barnwell | June 21, 2012, 10:38
  4. There is also no artiste known as fyahman in St. Vincent – the established Soca Monarch King it is “Fireman Hooper” .

    Posted by Alex Barnwell | June 21, 2012, 10:43
  5. Alex, except for the gramtically issues you identified is their anything else you will like to add?

    Ah mean they would not have said the words “boycott” but any rational person will interpret it to be that they are trying to hold the CDC ransom in order to get their wishes with the threat of them removing themselves (boycotting) from the competition in hope that it will hurt the show and CDC will have no choice than to give into their demands.

    I am sure if two other soca artiste lets say for argument sake Madzart and Icon were to make a similar statement we would not be having this conversation.

    Please remember soca monarch was their before Skinny and Fire man.

    Posted by John | June 21, 2012, 13:47
  6. No offense to Fyah and Skinny, but this issue should have been ironed out long before now at the hightening of the carnival season. Guys let us get through this one and start negotiating with CDC early for next year. Not only the soca artists, but all components of carnival…mass, pan and soca/calypso.

    I do agree that the costs of everything is increasing these days. CDC needs to seriously evaluate its award prize money. We need to encourage our artists and young people to get involve in the art form. But if the financial benefits are not up to par then this would turn away and discourage many talented people from participating. Then the quality of the carnival will begin to deminish.

    Ah coming home for carnival!!!

    Posted by U.S. Vincy | June 21, 2012, 15:39

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