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Kings, Queens set to call off boycott
Masqueraders say if their concerns are addressed by the National Carnival Commission (NCC), they will take part in the King and Queen competition this year.
In a telephone interview yesterday with the T&T Guardian, director of the T&T Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) Gerard Weekes said the TTCBA had spoken to NCC chairman Allison Demas, who assured them she would make efforts to address their requests.
“She has indicated that she is working to have these issues addressed,” Weekes added.
Earlier this year, TTCBA members threatened to boycott the final of the King and Queen competition, which will now be held on Carnival Friday rather than Carnival Sunday at Dimanche Gras.
Weekes said while they supported the idea of moving the event to another day in the Carnival calendar, the TTCBA believed the competition would not be a success because of the popularity of the International Soca Monarch Competition, which also takes place on that day.
The TTCBA also has asked for the prize money of $120,000 to be increased.
Weekes said other complaints included the lack of proper backstage bathroom facilities, the need for a refreshment area for participants and the poor “backstage logistics” which make the entrance and exit of the large costumes difficult.
He said the “truck and costume jam” which occurred behind the scenes of the competition made it difficult to mount and unmount the costumes.
When masqueraders left the stage after parading, he said, they had to carry their costume from one end of the Queen’s Park Savannah to the other to find their trucks which transported their costumes.
Weekes said as long as the TTCBA received notification that its key concerns would be addressed, there would be participation in the competitions.
He said while he the TTCBA awaited a response from Dumas, he had advised that work on costumes continued to avoid the “mad scramble” closer to the competition date.
NCC chairman Allison Demas could not be contacted for comment yesterday as she was in meetings throughout the day.
Mas Designers Respond
Veteran children’s mas designer Rosalind Gabriel said while the NCC has given its assurance it would try to attend to the concerns of masmen and masqueraders, TTCBA members were waiting for the NCC to reveal what the new prize money would be.
Gabriel, in an interview yesterday, said Demas made it clear it would not be possible to change the date of the King and Queen competitions.
She added: “They are unable to change the date now because too many things have already been done for the show. “However, we are still not in favour of the show being on Fantastic Friday but if the other issues are attended to, we would try to accept it.”
She said every year, King and Queen masqueraders complained they have to parade to almost-empty stands at the Savannah and, like all other competitors in Carnival events, they would like to have an audience present to appreciate the show they put on.
She added: “Up to now, we have not heard or seen one advertisement on radio, in the print media or on television promoting this new feature on Fantastic Friday.”
Gabriel said she hoped the TTCBA and the NCC could come to an agreement soon.
She added: “We do not like delivering ultimatums. The TTCBA is about representing members in the best way possible. We hope everyone will turn out to the competition if we can iron out the issues.”
Veteran masquerader and 2012 King of the Bands Roland St George said he had not yet started work on his costume.
He added: “I am sticking to my decision. If they (the NCC) give us something then I will change my mind.
“I will not have a costume of the magnitude that I am used to because I will not have time for that. I am a masman and mas is about creating something so I will still make an effort to create a good costume to allow me to compete.”
St George said he had no problem with the date being changed to Carnival Friday but the problem was that “it was changed without consultation and without discussion.”
He said apart from the proposed increase in the prize money, the TTCBA hoped to see a revision in the adjudication process.