The other side of the #SupportLocalBds campaign

By now you must be familiar with the #SupportLocalBds campaign; the movement that encourages Crop Overites to support local promoters by seeing to it that at least 75% of the events on their personal event calendars are those organized by Barbadian promoters. It is an effort to both promote and support local; a call that we have heard by many across social media who fervently criticize the mass influx of foreign events into the Crop Over repertoire. While the #SupportLocalBds campaign has disconnected itself from such, stating that its sole mission is to promote and support local as stated prior and should not be seen as “an attempt to berate, boycott or marginalize others and their ventures”, this is not the case for those who firmly believe that these events are a threat to our unique Crop Over product and dilute the distinctive experience to be had by all.

A number of Barbadians also purport that the increase in the staging of such foreign events incites unwanted competition, which is detrimental to Barbadian promoters. However, for many of the latter, this is not the case. In fact, the vast majority welcome these foreign events and their contribution to the diversification of our Crop Over Festival product. After all, with each passing year Crop Over increases in attractiveness and an increase in visitors to the island follows. So it is only fitting that we should have more events, which appeal to varying palates and can accommodate varying numbers. It is not the fear of competition that bothers Barbadian promoters, nay. The concern is nestled in the fact that some foreign events knowingly or unknowingly evade the Government-stipulated protocols put in place by local authorities, which bluntly and plainly put, robs the Barbadian economy. Hosting a Crop Over event is not as simple as - set a date, promote on social media, sell tickets, collect money, party hard and head to the bank with a big grin - as it may seem.

The Crop Over Festival entails dressing up and getting ready, sometimes for hours at a time, to get to that “can’t miss me” event. When you’ve finished dancing, socializing, enjoying and have left the venue, event personnel begin the process of cleaning and dismantling. The event isn’t done there; neither did it start when the doors were opened to the public. Event planning and promotion is a detailed process, often starting months before the scheduled date. Of course, idea conceptualization and budgeting are included but there are a host of legal procedures that need to be followed as well.

These policies have been put in place for several reasons including safety and taxation, however, promoters’ experiences seem to differ. Some local promoters have expressed concern that some foreign entities bypass a few of these regulations when hosting their events. They report that these entities are not Value Added Tax (V.A.T.) registered and this causes challenges for local service providers after the event is held. However, The Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) in accordance with the V.A.T. and Income Tax Acts, has specific policies in place that govern non-residents’ interests in the hosting of events.

Foreign entities must appoint a local agent to act on their behalf for the V.A.T. registration process and in addition, these promoters are required to pay 5% of the total value of printed tickets. This payment is due 48 hours prior to the staging of the event. These policies are coupled with many others by which locals must also comply. They include:

  • Registering as an individual or company with the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office.
  • Written request to the Barbados Police Force.
  • Obtaining a Loud Music Permit.
  • The event venue must have a Public Entertainment Licence.
  • Register with the VAT Office.
  • Printed event tickets must be presented to BRA to be stamped and recorded.
  • Completed Declaration Form
  • Written permission from the Revenue Commissioner.

Written permission from the Revenue Commissioner is obtained by submitting a completed declaration form. This form outlines contributions of sponsorship, security, disc jockeys as well as food and drink concessions. Should there be any booked performances for international bands or artistes, a percentage of the acts’ gross earnings must also be paid.

In some instances regarding structures and road usage or closures, written permission must be granted from the divisions of Town and Country Planning and the Ministry of Transport and Works. Public liability insurance coverage is a must, as well as having emergency personnel on site in the interest of safety. Health certificates and liquor licenses must also be in order.

Most promoters report smooth sailing in requesting and obtaining licences and permissions once all requirements are met. While the requirements are numerous, foreign and local entities must comply should they desire their event to be legally successful, as disregard of these protocols can lead to fines and/or imprisonment. To quote the Barbadian adage, “Crow does fly high, but when ‘e come down, de ants does still eat out ‘e eye”. Take heed.

For more information regarding event-hosting procedures, contact the Barbados Revenue Authority at (246) 430-3101.