As a result of its long-standing association with England, Barbados is mainly Anglican. The Moravian and Methodist Churches were added to the list of denominations of the 18th century. Since then these have been followed by Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, The Salvation Army and many other small religious groups.
There are small groups of Hindus and Muslims, as well as a small Jewish community. These groups all have complete religious freedom.
An Act of Parliament, passed in March 1983, created the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). The Foundation is a Statutory Corporation which falls under the Prime Minister's Office.
The islands cultural groups span the gamut from drama to church choirs. Included in the list of theatre groups are the Green Room Players, Stage One Theatre Productions, W.W.B. Productions, the St. John Folk and Dramatic Group, Bajan Bus Stop, Laff It Off Productions, Pampalam and the Pinelands Creative Workshop, which is also involved in dance. Other dance groups include Dancing Africa, Dance National Afrique, the Barbados Dance Theatre Company and Dance Strides. There are two ballet schools: the Dance Place and the Liz Mahon Dancers. Musical Groups and choirs include the Barbados Chamber Music Ensemble, the Barbados Symphonia, Sing Out Barbados, the Barbados Festival Choir, Ellerslie Folk Chorale, the Barbados National Youth Orchestra and the Cavite Chorale. In addition to the St. Lucy Secondary School Steel Orchestra, there are several school-based orchestras and tuk bands. There are also numerous gospel groups, including the Nazarene Silvertones, Promise, Gratitude, the New Testament Church of God Chorale, the Wesley Singers, Sister Marshall and Joseph Niles and the Consolers.
These groups all play their part in the promotion and development of creative arts in Barbados.
As part of its activities, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) organises three annual national festivals Crop Over, Congaline and the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA). It also assists in the staging of Holders Opera Season celebration, the Holetown Festival, Bdos Jazz Festival and the Oistins Fish Festival.
Crop Over Festival
A folk festival which originated on the sugar plantations, "Crop Over" was then, as it is now, a means of celebrating the end of a hard-working sugar cane season. The three-week festival runs from mid-July to early August. It is a lively showcase of all facets of Barbadian culture, a fluid blend of African survivals and western modernity. Activities include plantation fairs, a donkey-cart parade, a King and Queen of the Crop competition, street malls and the "Pic-o-de-Crop" Calypso Monarch competition.
The Fish Festival celebrates the life of and contributions made by the south coast fishing town of Oistins in Christ Church. Occurring in April, the celebrations include fish-boning competitions, fishing boat races, food stalls and arts and craft displays.
Congaline Carnival which was first staged in 1994 is recognised locally as the "World's Greatest Street Party". It is held on the South Coast attracting hundreds of locals and visitors alike. It begins during the last week of April and culminates on May Day.
This Creative Arts Festival is held annually to commemorate our independence. It was introduced in 1973 to provide a forum for the creative and performing arts. No age limit is set for the competition which moves from the community, through parishes, to the national level. Successful participants receive awards of gold, silver and bronze, depending upon the level of excellence achieved.
The Barbados Museum and Historical Society was established in 1933. It not only collects, preserves and publishes materials, relating to Barbados' history, but it also seeks to promote a knowledge of Barbadian history and culture. The society has over 1000 members.
The Museum is housed in the historic Military Prison of St. Ann's Garrison, erected to accommodate the British Army between 1790 and 1853. In addition to its permanent displays, the museum also has a gallery for temporary exhibits. Its library of current and historical publications is open to the public for research purposes.
Barbados National Trust
Established in 1960, the National Trust is dedicated to preserving the island's heritage.
One of the Trust's first projects was to purchase Welchman Hall Gully in which can be found many species of plants. It essentially remains a place of natural beauty.
Since then, the Trust has acquired Gun Hill Signal Station, St. George; the Cotton Tower Signal Station, St. Joseph; Morgan Lewis Windmill, St. Andrew; Andromeda Gardens, St. Joseph; and "Ronald Tree House", Belleville, St. Michael, named after the Founder and first President of the Trust. The Trust is headquartered at Wildey House, Wildey, St. Michael.
During the months of January to March its "Open House" programme arranges the display of privately owned houses which are of historical interest.
The Barbados National Trust enjoys a good rapport with National Trust members of England, Wales, Ireland, USA and of Canadian heritage group.
Barbados is the only country which boasts a "landship" movement a navy that never goes to sea.
Established over 100 years ago, through the initiative of Moses Wood a retired seaman, the fleet is commanded by an Admiral and has incorporated all the ratings of the British Navy. The Club House is the ship that always carries the prefix BLS (Barbados Landship) before its name. Before Independence, the prefix was always HMLS (Her Majesty's Landship).
The ship's crew wears uniforms similar to those worn in a professional navy, and are trained and disciplined in the manner of the military. The language of "Jack Tars" is used. The landship attends church services and parades with their corps of drum (a tuk band). Their manoeuvres are gala affairs, packed with excitement, rhythm and movement.
An ongoing programme by the NCF arranges exhibits in craft, textiles and fine art for Barbadians at home or abroad, and for regional artists. The Queens Park Gallery and the Grande Salle at the Central Bank are two of the exhibiting professional galleries. There are now a number of privately owned galleries.
All cultural events on the island are not organised by the National Cultural Foundation. There are a few major shows arranged by private organisations and designed as night-life entertainment at dinner. The Barbados Craft Guild also organises major craft shows.
1627 and All That... is held at Tyrol Cot every Thursday evening. There is folk-dancing and music. It can be described as the history of the island as told by the dancers.
The Plantation Tropical Spectacular II - Another evening of folklore, music, song and dance, depicting aspects of Caribbean life.
The island has five major recording studios and several smaller ones which offer high quality productions at reduced rates.
Blue Wave Recording Studio, Bayley's Plantation, St. Philip: 48-track system.
Paradise Alley Recordings, Hastings, Christ Church: 24-track system.
Chambers' Studio, Wildey, St. Michael.
Gray Lizard Productions Inc.
Ocean Lab Studios Ltd.
Slam City, Rock Dundo
CRS Music, Newton
Ragacha Music Inc, Spring Garden Highway
Elite Systems Inc., My Lords Hill
Lethal Studios, Upton
Record and Cassette Manufacturing Companies
Best Music, Applewaites, St. Thomas; Ice Records Ltd., Bayleys Great House, St. Philip and CRS, Wotton Plantation, Christ Church.
Barbados has a number of well-known musical groups. Some of the leading names are Krosfyah, Square One and the Merrymen.