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Bigger bandleaders too mercenary!
Every year we keep hearing what I think is a lot of baloney about our Carnival being a billion-dollar industry. For all the doubles in Debe, I am yet to see exactly where any appreciable portion of this money keeps going. All we hear is this recurring decimal about the need for increased prizes this year and that year by the various competitors, panmen, calypsonians, masqueraders, bandleaders and a host of other “gimme gimmes” who feel they are somehow entitled to the taxpayers’ purse.
This hand-out has been forged and nurtured by the politicians down the years, so much so that these main Carnival stakeholders look like greedy children who keep begging for more and more. With the exception of the likes of Brian MacFarlane, no attempt has been made by bandleaders to uplift the standard of their presentations, with them engaging in an unholy race to see which one can produce the skimpiest of outfits, as if we could out beat out Brazil in this department.
The standard of “costumes,” if one can so term two flimsy pieces of underwear, is so predictable each year and these are presented by most of the popular bands, who call big bucks for the pleasure of gyrating in their “presentations.’
My beef today is: I am totally dissatisfied with bandleaders being awarded a single cent from the treasury by way of Band of the Year cash prizes. Let’s face facts. Carnival, especially for leaders and the respective committees of these big bands, is, pure and simple, an avenue for money-making. The economics of every band are carefully planned each year and not one of them is hitting the road without at least breaking even.
So, effectively, they are making handsome returns on their investments. Even before the bands’ various sections leave their respective headquarters to hit the streets, their loot is already stacked up in the banks. Their money is safely tucked away and I am yet to hear any band making a loss in any one year—and I dare any one of them to produce their books to show they made a financial loss.
So why this crazy demand for what one of them has describe as a “measly” $300,000 first prize to be upped to—listen to this—$3 million up to $5 million. What kind of madness is this? Each year they show off their fancy high-end vehicles with music, food and other amenities and facilities for the enjoyment of their revellers. That kind of financial outlay cannot come from a petty bandleader. Their profits are assured, so why the need to rip off taxpayers when their investments are safe and sound?
Those I am happy to see getting increased grants are the regional Carnival bodies, the only people who give their heart and soul to the mas throughout the rural areas in the country. I have had the pleasure on many occasions of visiting these groups and I always marvel at the standard of their presentations.
Last Carnival Tuesday I attended the show at Chaguanas. Those are the people who are in need of the State’s intervention to bring their presentations up to the standard of the bigger bands.
These “country” people play a very positive role in keeping T&T’s mas alive, especially in the traditional category. I will wholeheartedly support these groups, as they are the ones who really play the mas—but not in a sort of mercenary way like those who just come out to take to the bank taxpayers’ money on top of what they have already made on their own.
While they are busy counting their dollars at Carnival time, we are still witnessing the same old problems every year, particularly with respect to congestion on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. One of the suggestions which I think would go a long way in reducing this archaic problem is to draw a lottery to have bands appear on either Monday or Tuesday, instead of all of them parading the same day.
Simple, isn’t it?
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