Sitting under a tree in Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, secretary of Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud made a tearful plea to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to mediate with
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Kings and Queens first prize upped to $250,000 by NCC
Mas band organisations are happy with the $844,000 increase in prize money for the Kings and Queens competition despite a discrepancy between the amount promised by Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas and what was announced by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) yesterday.
It came in a press release yesterday, just one week after Douglas announced a $27.8 million increase in funding for Carnival 2013 at a post-Cabinet press conference. During the press conference, Douglas promised additional funding of $1.6 million in prizes for the Carnival Kings and Queens. The competition prizes only account for about 50 per cent of that amount.
In the release, the NCC said the total allocation for that competition amounted to $844,000. “These increases have been allocated to the ten positions in each of the Kings and Queens finals competition,” it said. “The total paid to each of the first place senior King and Queen will now be increased to $250,000 from the 2012 figure of $120,000 each. The total prize fund for all winners of the senior Kings and Queens final competitions will move from a 2012 figure of $824,000, more than doubling in 2013 to $1,668,000.”
The Calypso Monarch prize which was raised to $1 million after boycott threats from calypsonians last year, remains the same. In a brief telephone interview yesterday, president of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) David Lopez refused to comment on the discrepancy. “I don’t know where you get your figures from, but I am not talking to you about that,” Lopez said. He said the increase for the competition was welcome.
“It was long in coming, the NCBA had been lobbying previously for increases in the prize money for competitions,” he said. “We sat down with Minister Douglas and the chairman of the NCC and discussed it and we were given a commitment that the increase would happen. We are very happy with it.” Director of the T&T Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) Gerard Weekes said it was understandable that Douglas would have said one thing and delivered another.
“We expected that they would have to take a closer look at the figures before a final decision was made,” Weekes said. He said the Carnival season was a short one and the main issue of contention between the TTCBA and the NCC had been that putting the show on Friday would not allow it to be profitable. “We have got an increase, the first prize has doubled and we are happy for it,” he said.
“The most important aspects of our complaints were the facilities and the monitoring of the adjudication system, and these things are being addressed.” The release announced 36 per cent in additional approved funding, or $480,500, had been allocated to Junior Kings and Queens in their school/non-school, open and Junior King and Queen of the day competitions.
In 2012, the total prize allocation for Junior events was $143,550 and for 2013 the figure has been increased to $624,050. Junior mas bandleader Rosalind Gabriel said the increase for junior prizes was something she was happy for. Douglas could not be reached via e-mail or telephone yesterday and his assistant Edward Metvier said he had left the country. Several attempts to reach Demas by e-mail, telephone and through NCC’s communications officers were unsuccessful.
The prize structure for Panorama and the Calypso Monarch remain the same as in 2012.