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Bandleaders want more money for Kings and Queens
Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Allison Demas says her organisation is engaged in discussions with the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) over an increase in prize money for the Carnival King and Queen competitions. They are also expected to discuss other issues that were raised by members of the mas fraternity at a meeting at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, last Friday.
Demas made the disclosure during a telephone interview yesterday. Responding to issues raised by the recently formed T&T Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) and its members, Demas said the issues were being dealt with. “We are meeting with the NCBA and we will send out a release on Thursday to give an update on the situation,” Demas said.
Mas players threatened to boycott the proposed Carnival Friday finals of the competition if the NCC chose to ignore their requests to change the date, increase the prize money, ensure proper organisation on the show night and look at challenges faced by performers during the show. The prize for the competition has been $120,000 since 2006.
At a press conference on Monday, the King of the Band for MacFarlane mas, Gerard Weekes, said competitors were treated with disrespect from the preliminaries to the final night of the competition. He said because there was no proper organisation, costumes were sometimes damaged before they even got on stage and there were no hospitality facilities.
“We are there for hours and sometimes there isn’t even a bottle of water available,” Weekes said. Former King of the Bands Curtis Eustace said the current prize money barely covered the actual cost of producing the costumes. In an interview yesterday, Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas said he was unaware of most of the issues raised by the TTCBA.
“This is the first time I am hearing about a need for an increase in prize money. She (Demas) has not come to me with any major issues so I suspect that she is handling it well,” Douglas said. Douglas said he would continue to work with the NCC and stakeholders to resolve these issues.
“I don’t have problems with the concerns of stakeholder organisations, but I have authorised the NCC to look after the affairs of Carnival, and that is what I expect them to do,” he said.