A simple change to the International Soca Monarch could give the entire contest a facelift. At least, that’s what Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts (CPF), the organisation behind the annual contest, is hoping.

In a January 13 release, CPF said that reigning monarchs are no longer be required to defend their titles.

“The decision to change the rule of defending the title was guided by a decision to align the competition with best practices in the global entertainment industry, where the reigning monarch is not obligated to defend their title,” the release said.

Their hope is that the rule-change will make it easier for new talent to emerge, creating a virtuous circle of overall growth in the industry.

Defending the title “Shouldn’t be a chore, but a choice,” Chairman Peter Scoon is quoted as saying. “Artistes should be free to decide if they are motivated to compete or not.”

The release said, “we believe that it also gives the defending champion the leeway to schedule their seasons in the most beneficial manner for their individual careers and professional obligations. In this sense, the organisation does not want to lock winners into the mandatory dedication of time and resources towards participating in the competition.”

The specific change is to rule 2.6 of the contract, which lays out the obligations of the reigning monarch.

However, the release also said that reigning monarchs “will still be obligated to perform all other aspects of the contract.”