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Carnival Foundation chairman: Route needs to be expanded

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, who was recently re-elected to serve a second term as chairman of the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF), has expressed his disappointment at the manner in which the mas component of Carnival is being managed. He was critical of “the annual habit of poor planning and last-minute consultations with stakeholders, which only happened after protest” and said that showed the lack of a professional approach to Carnival. He asked: “The Government is putting emphasis on globally branding Carnival but how can we brand it if we cannot get our house in order?” Satram-Maharaj said Carnival route management would only be effective and successful if it was expanded westwards through St James and the Mucurapo Foreshore with the addition of another judging point at that end.

He said the NCDF has been making that recommendation to the Culture Ministry and National Carnival Commission (NCC) since 2008. Satram-Maharaj said while the Carnival parade route remained the same, mas bands were expanding, new bands were evolving and the numbers of music trucks were increasing. “The mas component of Carnival continues to be managed by people who cannot think outside the box,” he said. The NCDF chairman said the group did not support the unilateral imposition of registration fees on bands, kings and queens, individuals and children’s bands. He said: “This is a bad precedent. They must understand the concept that the road was made to walk on Carnival day. This is our symbol of our historical freedom of expression.”

Another bone of contention, he said, were long outstanding copyright fees and royalties for 2007-2011, which were collected by the NCC and the National Carnival Bands’ Association (NCBA) and have not been paid to NCDF members. Satram-Maharaj called on Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar to “understand his role and ensure that everyone’s intellectual property rights are protected.” He said NCDF would be embarking on several initiatives to bolster the mas industry and transform Carnival into a lucrative business. These include:
• Holding talks with costume-makers in China about new technology for costume-manufacturing. According to the NCDF, India also has expressed interest in sharing its technology and supplying equipment for costume manufacturing;
• Creating a regional strategic plan to grow and develop regional carnivals into professional and sustainable businesses. Funding has been release for this development; and;
• Commening the East Region and South/Central Region Strategic Plans after Carnival.

Others members of the new NCDF board of directors are Jean Paul Pouchet (vice chairman), Cedric Lewis (secretary), Anya Elias (treasurer), Michael Antoine, Edward Seow, Junior Jones, Patsy Ransome and Jemma Bedlow (Tobago).