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San Fernando will have to look elsewhere for funding for its 2014 Carnival events as it main contributor, the National Carnival Commission, has taken a budget cut. Appeals from Carnival convenor Junia Regrello for additional funding made during the launch of San Fernando Carnival on Tuesday evening at Space La Nouba, La Romaine, seem not to have the intended impact.
Regrello, who is also the deputy mayor, speaking in the presence of Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas, Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and commissioner with the National Carnival Commissioner Kelvin Rampersad, complained about the financial difficulties being experienced by the city.
He said that approximately 50 per cent of the first draw down of its 2014 subvention, which has been cut from $2.1 million in 2013, to $1.3 in 2014, has been already used to settle outstanding debts from last year’s Carnival. Organisers of the Arima and Chaguanas regional carnival celebrations have made a similar complaint.
Regrello lobbied the ministers and Rampersad to have their sum increased as several initiatives, including the South Soca Monarch Competition and re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots, had been added to their programme. However, Rampersad in response said: “Unfortunately the NCC had taken a budget cut and as a result, we have to pass on that cut to San Fernando and all the other Carnivals.”
Douglas did not broach the subject but focused on how his ministry and the NCC could transition Carnival from being a signature event for TT into an industry. The minister admitted Carnival had a marketable value, not only in terms of monetary, but social value as well. “We are bottling and selling happiness,” he said, pointing out that while oil and gas, which sustains the economy, has finite value, “once we have Trinis we can make Carnival.”
Douglas said for Carnival, a large group of visitors from different parts of Africa would be here to observe what we do and how we do it. Touching on the theme of this year’s celebration, “The Riddum of Sando”, Seepersad-Bachan conceded that San Fernando had its own rhythm which distinguished it from every other part of Trinidad, Tobago, the Caribbean and the world.
“The rhythm of San Fernando, or Sando, is unique, it is special and it is infectious because we, in Sando march to the beat of a different drummer from everyone else.” She applauded those, past and present, who have contributed to this uniqueness long before Calypso Rose sang ‘Ah Goin’ down San Fernando’, such as Black Stalin, the late Ras Shorty I, Roaring Lion and Maestro, in calypso, Hatters and Cavaliers in pan and, in mas, Mac Copeland and reigning band of the year champ Ivan Kalicharan.