In the wake of what the Grenada Tourist Board (GTB) describes as a phenomenal 24.9 percent growth in arrivals for the 2018 Carnival Season, the chief executive officer of Spicemas, Kelvin Jacob, says he is on a mission to greater promote the island’s carnival.
Hence, Jacob on Wednesday concluded an eight-day trip to the Big Apple to “discuss the creation of a collaborative network of exchange, and sharing of ideas and support that will enhance our cultural product output in 2020 and beyond.”
He also told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, prior to his departure for home, that his purpose was to “discuss operations as it relates to understanding WIADCA’s (West Indian American Day Carnival Association) festival and that of Grenada and other countries in the region, geared towards learning from and supporting the growth of each other.”
Additionally, the Spicemas CEO said he discussed the “initiation of the planning of opportunities for our Grenadian artistes to come to New York to participate in Labor Day activities based on a criterion that takes popularity (status as National Calypso/Soca/Groovy Monarchs and National Carnival Queen) and inclusive national representation into consideration.”
His mission also served to promote Spicemas 2020 and observe logistics relative to the various WIADCA events, and “network with key personnel and create partnerships aimed at improving the Spicemas Carnival Brand.”
Jacob said this first point of contact was Gerry Hopkin, whom he met initially when they were guests on a television program in Grenada, in August 2018, discussing Grenada’s carnival.
Hopkin is a Grenadian-born, Brooklyn-based international consultant and community organizer with training and experience in law, mass media, public relations/marketing and business networking aimed at sustainable economic empowerment.
Jacob said soon after he was appointed CEO of Spicemas Corporation on Feb. 1, Hopkin reached out to him “to offer words of congratulations, and offered his services to help in building relationships with key personnel to foster the growth of Spicemas on the international level.”
He credited Hopkin with initiating “the conversation” with WIADCA’s President, Dr. Jean Joseph “about having WIADCA explore ways to expand their collaborative working relationship with carnival-celebrating countries in the Caribbean, and reached out to me about engaging WIADCA accordingly.”
“I immediately embraced the idea, because it is consistent with my vision of finding ways to collaboratively preserve, optimally develop and gainfully showcase the value of our cultural products and festivals at home and in the Diaspora,” Jacob said. “Hence, on the heels of a successful Spicemas 2019, I have already started working on 2020.
“I have already held a meeting with Dr. Joseph that was arranged by Mr. Hopkin to begin the conversation about how Spicemas and other Caribbean carnival-celebrating countries can collaboratively and deliberately work, share ideas and cross-market with WIADCA in ways that produce results that would be of mutual benefit to the goals of our organizations, and toward the preservation and the appropriate monetization of the showcasing of our talent from across the region in the Diaspora,” he added.
Jacob said he also met with Grenada’s Consul General to New York, Aiden Pursoo; Christine Noel-Horsford, director of sales USA for the Grenada Tourism Authority; and Dr. Roy A. Hastick, the Grenadian-born president and founder of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI).
He said all parties he met with have given their commitment to the promotion of Spicemas in the New York Diaspora.
Jacob said this year’s Spicemas was “very successful, counting on the number of visitors compared to 2018.”
He said 27,311 visitors came to the island between July 15 and Aug. 13 2019.
“The shows this year were well-attended, they started on time and was of a very high standard,” he said. “We also saw more people playing mas this year as opposed to being spectators.”
Jacob said, this year, Spicemas had all its shows produced, and reduced the number of artistes in the Groovy, Soca and Calypso competitions from 14 to 11, 16 to 11 and 15 to 10, respectively.
He said his plans for Spicemas is the “preservation and revitalization of the traditional mas, creating more opportunities for stakeholders to better their craft of music and mas-making geared at improving the overall product, (and) taking carnival to our schools as part of the objective to drive sustainability of our cultural traditions.”
Jacob said Spicemas is Grenada’s biggest cultural festival, “which brings lots of visitors to our shows, generating billions of dollars to the economy.
“We can boast of our carnival being one of the safest, with its own uniqueness of our traditional mas, noted for ‘jab jab’ and Monday Night Mas; (and) moreover, get to experience the warmth and friendliness of the local people and our pristine beaches.”
Jacob thanked Grenadian nationals for the contributions they’ve made to Spicemas over the years and asked that they continue supporting Spicemas in their “unique ways.”
“Let’s continue to keep our carnival safe, clean and deeply-rooted in our cultural traditions,” he urged, disclosing that the launch of the next Spicemas is May 2, 2020. Carnival runs from Aug. 1 -11.
“Book early to make sure you get the experience of Spicemas 2020,” Jacob said, underscoring the theme, “Spicemas – Many Events One Carnival!”