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NCBA boss: Mas needs new venue
Now that Carnival 2013 is over, National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) president David Lopez feels it’s time to make improvements for Carnival 2014, chief among them a change in venue for the Port-of-Spain celebrations. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Lopez said the route needed to be revisited since the parade of the bands had outgrown the city.
“Move Carnival out of the city and create a place for it, a multipurpose venue,” he suggested. Lopez said a stakeholder meeting should be convened as quickly as possible to address the issues so they could be dealt with in time for next year. He expressed faith in National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Allison Demas, who, he said, “has the will to do things differently.”
Demas, he said, was the first chairman to walk the Carnival route. The challenges occurred, he said, because things are done in 2013 the same way as in 1956. Some of the challenges, he said, included the large trucks employed by many of the bands, for which there was no regulation, and the infighting among the bandleaders themselves.
“Some of the challenges of Carnival lie with bandleaders themselves. They come on the road and there is underlying current; some block one another. Some people have the notion that if they are not in Carnival there is no Carnival. But long before I was here there was a Carnival and long after I am gone there will be a Carnival.”
Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing, however, did not agree with Lopez’s claim that Carnival had outgrown the city. In a news briefing yesterday at City Hall, Lee Sing said the problem with Carnival was not the need for a new venue.
“Well, that is because Mr Lopez, in all his wisdom, has chosen not to think outside the box. It hasn’t outgrown the city. What is happening here is that Lopez has moved away from the recognition that a Carnival band has become more than the masqueraders,” Lee Sing said, adding the infrastructure in support of the band had become larger and bigger than the band.
“A band with 30 trucks. What is a band doing with 30 trucks? What we have now is miles of trucks in a band and we have got to take a decision if we want to save the mas: how we are going to treat with these trucks in Carnival. “I tell you, if Mr Lopez believes that the Carnival has outgrown the city, the day will come, if we continue to allow the problem of too many trucks in the band, where not even the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway will be long enough to take the parade of the bands.”
Lee Sing also offered a suggestion for the Dimanche Gras show, which was severely criticised by the public. He suggested the top three winners from the various competitions compete on Dimanche Gras night for the overall titles. This, he said, would significantly lessen the length of the show.
For large band Tribe, meanwhile, Carnival 2013 was an amazing year. In a telephone interview with T&T Guardian yesterday, bandleader Dean Akin said Tribe’s masqueraders said things went well. “We were able to get to stage in a timely manner,” he said. Akin said his band did not go downtown because his masqueraders did not want to, but because logistically it was better. Akin said if the band had gone downtown it would have taken a long time for it to get to the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Asked about the perceived loss of creativity in Carnival, Akin said recent bands have taken a fashion-based approach to Carnival and fashion had become important to the all-inclusive experience. He said 75 per cent of mas bands were all-inclusive which says, “something about where the consumers’ choice is going.”