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Neil “Iwer” George says, for many artistes entering the international soca monarch competition it’s not about the money.
George made the statement when asked to comment on the scaled prize money for the 2018 Play Whe International Soca Monarch, now in its 26 year.
It was announced at a press conference on Monday, at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad’s Point Fortin room, that this year’s winner will receive $300,000, second place $200,000 and third place $150,000 while the other seven finalists will receive $50,000 each. However, George said, “I think with the financial climate of the country, people have to be reasonable. When things was good they give us plenty. When it was good, they gave us millions. Now things bad and they give us hundreds, it ain’t no scene.”
“I don’t think any artiste would look at that,” he added.
While Adanna Asson, entertainment consultant and Patrice Robert’s publicist, said Roberts would not be entering this year’s competition, opting to give someone younger an opportunity to compete, she felt the revised structure would impact on other artistes entering the competition. Roberts, she added, took the decision since last year not to compete. Asson, who works with a number of artistes in the industry, said, “As for as my personal and professional standpoint, it is a bit challenging.”
She added, based on the economic climate, artistes would have to become very creative and figure out ways to cost-cut.
“Many times the artistes spend their appearance fee plus to put on their presentation, with the hopes that they can place between first and third. When you talk about it going down to $300,000 and stuff like that, I know artistes who would have spent more than that in the past and not even place first and/or third,” she said.
Similarly, Olatunji “Ola” Yearwood, the 2015 groovy monarch, said he would not be competing this year because his songs aren’t “Soca Monarch” songs. However, he believes the prize structure would impede some artistes from entering because “to put on a presentation you need certain amounts of money.”
“I would definitely like Soca Monarch to come back like to the times of the 90s, when you had that kind of rivalry between Ronnie McIntosh and SuperBlue. I would also like that the Government and other private sector could really invest in Soca Monarch and put it back there in the prizes of the $1 million and $3 million,” he added.
Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart, through publicist Tenille Clarke, said he would be entering the competition since it “is not about the money.”
Stewart said while he expected the reduction in prize money, the current economic challenges presented an opportunity for TT to go back to the essence of Carnival. “For him, it is not about the money. He has been in Soca Monarch for many, many years. He has been fortunate to be in the soca arena for about three decades or so. Soca Monarch for him means a stage and a medium where he is able to get real feedback about his music.”