You are here
Carnival troubles like the torture of Sisyphus
As chairman Allison Demas and the members of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) get down this week to the task of planning for Carnival 2014, high on their agenda should be the important matter of upgrading the festival infrastructure as well as the Parade of the Bands route. They should pay serious attention to the concerns raised by stakeholders like National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) President David Lopez, who, not for the first time, are highlighing the desperate need for a new venue for the Port-of-Spain celebrations.
There is no denying that Carnival has outgrown its current home at the Savannah and the masquerade can no longer flow smoothly along the designated routes through Port-of-Spain. Mas gridlock and other inconveniences are inevitable within the current infrastructure. The NCC and all other agencies committed to the development of T&T’s biggest national festival must be prepared to introduce major changes, expansion where possible and overall improvements to the physical space for Carnival.
During the past three or four decades, only cosmetic changes have been made to the Queen’s Park Savannah and surrounding facilities, and the venue which has for years been optimistically marketed as the mecca of Carnival does not live up to that hype. It is therefore time to revisit long promised plans for a permanent home for Carnival—plans which were shelved more than five years ago.
During the Patrick Manning administration, there were plans to construct a national Carnival and entertainment centre, a state-of-the-art, locally designed cultural centre for Carnival’s vast array of celebrations at the Savannah, just across from the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA). In 2007, to make way for this planned structure, parts of the Grand Stand were demolished. But the plan was then shelved and is not likely to be revived. In 2011, the People’s Partnership Government promised to start putting things in place for construction of a permanent home for Carnival at the Savannah.
But there has been silence since then, even as millions of dollars are spent—and wasted—annually on building, then demolishing the stage and other temporary facilities at great expense. Is this Sisyphean routine to continue into the indefinite future? Should the centre be built, or new plans be drawn up for a permanent home for Carnival in the Savannah?
Or perhaps the Carnival community and the population should take a more drastic step. Should the centre of the celebrations be moved to another, less problematic site, perhaps on the outskirts of the city?
Should the parade of the bands be rethought and restructured so that it does not require a single focal point? Other perennial logistical problems still plague the festival, such as the annual bottleneck in which bands remain stationary for hours as they wait to cross the Savannah stage; issues to do with the route taken by the bands; the horrendous traffic pile-up as some masqueraders try to leave the city on Tuesday evening while bands are still on the roads. Many of these, however, are linked to the central question of the main venue for Carnival; address that first and some of the others will simultaneously resolve themselves.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.