Prize money for calypsonian needs to be higher – ‘Patches’
Robert ‘Patches’ Knights-King a veteran calypsonian
June 5, 2018
Prize money for calypsonian needs to be higher – ‘Patches’

The prize money given to persons who place in the St Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Association’s (SVGCA) national competition is not enough, says veteran calypsonian Robert ‘Patches’ Knights-King.

“I am not pulling the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) over the coals because they can only do what they can with the funds allocated to them, but we calypsonians and the mas men…must stand up for what we consider the best interests. It is love of the artform we don’t get nothing out of it,” Knights said at a recent press briefing organized by the SVGCA.

Speaking at the CDC’s conference room in Victoria Park, Knights said that each year, calypsonians (78 this year), have to find between $500 to $750 to record their music, pay an arranger around $200, while there are other expenses.

“…Out of these 78 persons, only 22 getting selected for semi-finals,” explained Knights who noted that in Grenada, the winner of their competition gets EC$40,000 compared to EC$25,000 if you win here.

“People taking calypso and calypsonians for granted,” said Knights who revealed that 21 years ago, he was vice president of the SVGCA under Basil ‘Bung’ Cato, and they managed to get a car, a Daewoo, valued at $40,000 to be given as a first prize along with EC$1,000 for licencing.

“… And that was 21 years ago and 21 years later we still getting EC$25,000 and people don’t want you to talk about that, but we have to talk about it. The $25,000 can’t go so far,” Knights repeated, adding that second place in Grenada’s competition gets $25,000 while third place gets $20,000 and fourth places gets $16,000.

“We have to stand up and stick together because we not making any progress,” said Knights who said that if chosen to take part in the finals here, one is paid an appearance fee of $2000 ($4000 in Grenada) by the CDC and that money is most often used to buy props, clothing and pay performers among other preparative expenses, “leaving you with an empty pocket.”

“I am not knocking CDC, but CDC is representing the various artforms and we have to negotiate for better returns for our efforts.”