Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Wish list or bucket list for Carnival?
Finance Minister Larry Howai read a $60 billion-plus budget last week in Parliament and now the custodians of T&T Carnival, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), wait with bated breath to see what quantum of funds will be allocated to Carnival 2014. On Sunday, NCC chairman Allison Demas told the T&T Guardian the State had doled out approximately $100 million to run this year’s Carnival. The NCC has scheduled a launch of the Carnival 2014 festival for October 26 to 27, at a venue to be announced. Apart from disclosing how much the organisation will spend on Carnival, it is also expected to reveal the format of events and any changes that might be made in the structure and production of the national festival. Demas said the organisation will start rolling out plans for the festival this week. In terms of mas, especially the staging of the Parade of Bands, one can expect some significant changes to the parade route for masquerade bands, particularly in Port-of-Spain. For several years bandleaders and masqueraders have complained about the inadequacy of the route, given the growing population of bands, and congestion caused at the main judging venue, the Queen’s Park Savannah.
For years some bandleaders have lobbied for the drawing of lots, allocating specific days for bands to parade at this venue. Another perennial bugbear has been the disbursement of prize money to kings, queens and individuals, with stakeholders clamouring for increased monetary awards. One question all SIGs are hoping to be answered is about Dimanche Gras, a traditional production which underwent sweeping changes for Carnival 2013. Calls have been made to return this show to Carnival Sunday night, with all its components, inclusive of the National Calypso Monarch final and the finals of the King and Queen competition. This year, these finals were extracted from the traditional model and were staged on the Thursday and Friday nights preceding Carnival weekend. Pan Trinbago is expected to maintain its format for the National Panorama competition, its finals to be held on Carnival Saturday night, at the Savannah. The days of the National Calypso Monarch contesting the final for $50, a silver cup and a bottle of rum are long gone. For the past three years, winners have collectively won $4 million. This leap in prize money was no doubt inspired by the $2 million first prize awarded to William Munro’s International Soca Monarch, Carnival’s biggest production, staged by Caribbean Prestige Foundation on Carnival Friday night.
Since Carnival, the NCC has undergone some significant personnel changes at its helm with the departure of Clarence Moe as the organisation’s CEO. His shoes were filled by interim CEO Edward Metivier, and although the NCC has remained silent in recent months on its operations, reports indicate that the position has been filled by Michael Guyadeen. One stakeholder of a Carnival SIG said on Sunday: “So far, things are encouraging, as Mr Guyadeen has been very receptive to all suggestions made to him.” So, with six months left before J’Ouvert on Carnival Monday, all fingers are crossed that the State and the NCC will deliver the goods to produce one of the best Carnivals ever.
Carnival stakeholders’ wants for 2014
• Paul Charles (director of Carnival TV): “There are three things I have on my wishlist. One, the NCC needs to institute competent and independent expertise, with knowledgeable people engaged to design the route for the Parade of the Bands to facilitate ease of movement and eliminate the bottlenecks. This must include a mutually-beneficial solution to the pan on the road challenge.
“Secondly, all the interest groups (pan; mas; calypso; soca) need to put aside their respective self-interests to facilitate the packaging and presentation of T&T Carnival to the world as a single, unique brand characterised by a multi-faceted experience. “And three, the Tourism Development Company (TDC); InvestTT; representatives of our High Commissions abroad and other state-promoting organisations need to play a significantly more active role in leveraging Carnival to promote opportunities in T&T.”
• Dawad Philip (We People International): “I am not bringing any band next year. San Fernando has just become a most difficult kind of place to be culturally. It’s been this way for sometime now. Culture is now in a crisis. Carnival in San Fernando is dead. Not even a life support can save it. “The prize money problem for this year’s Carnival hasn’t even been resolved as yet. The southern culture is that people really want to go into Port-of-Spain for mas. Nobody has made any serious attempt to develop and improve Carnival in San Fernando. “The whole system of judging mas in south is deplorable. There has never been any serious lobby for mas in San Fernando by South stakeholders to the national organisation. Nobody makes any money in San Fernando Carnival; everybody is in the red, and owes money. In South, we have to give away costumes to make an impressive presentation on Carnival day. “Every year a post mortem is held and that’s just what it is: a meeting to determine what caused the death of Carnival in San Fernando.”
• Dune Ali (Carnival Players kiddies band): “I’d like to see a change of route. No one looks at Carnival in Port-of-Spain. The route is long and by the time the children get to the Savannah they are tired, rushed off the stage, and not allowed to present their band properly because the Savannah must be cleared by 3 pm for Panorama finals. “So, if children’s mas was to begin uptown, say around by Napa or the top of Charlotte Street, the bands would be able to cross the Savannah stage from 8 am. The parade can end either by bands coming downtown or going to the (Queen’s Park) Oval, or some other venue. “The children of today are not the children of yesteryear, in terms of endurance. That lengthy route to the Savannah is counterproductive and not in the interest of anyone.”
• Carol Holder (caterer/vendor/Garden Kitchen): I have been doing this (vending) for over 30 years and I would like to see the NCC provide vendors with proper locations. Where vendors are placed bands and masqueraders don’t pass there. It has become progressively harder for vendors to earn an honest dollar on Carnival, even for those of us who have been on the track of the Queen’s Park Savannah for many years. The NCC gives vendors a run around and makes it harder each year for us to get accreditation. They need to rebuild booths and make them more attractive, with improved facilities, especially utilities and toilets. It’s the same booth they have been recycling and constructing for years, and Carnival has progressed.”
• Junia Regrello (Skiffle Steel Orchestra): “My concern isn’t actually one with the NCC, but one with Pan Trinbago. I would like to see better efficiency, and more co-operation from law enforcement in getting bands on and off stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah. “Long ago, the captains of steelbands had a little more authority in the Savannah on Panorama day, by being allotted special passes, but all that has changed. As a steelband captain, on Panorama final night in the Savannah, I can easily be arrested by law-enforcement personnel.”
• Sugar Aloes (calypsonian Michael Osouna): “The NCC and the Government need to give consideration to giving culture a bigger share of the money. Imagine over $60 million is passed in a budget and no mention is made of culture, Carnival, pan, chutney or calypso. “I would like to see those in authority even try and help Weston (Rawlins), aka Cro Cro, get back his calypso tent. The NCC needs to give TUCO much more money than is presently allocated to the calypso body. No sponsor today is assisting any calypso tent, so it’s left to TUCO and the NCC to help calypso tents and calypso people. Prize money needs to be seriously addressed in calypso.”
• Stephen Derek (D’Midas Associates): “The NCC has to change the entire format of Carnival. For starters, they have to bring back Dimanche Gras on a Sunday, with all its segments. Without that, Carnival is not the same. Dimanche Gras is the pinnacle of individual competition in all aspects of the festival. “Something significant has to be done about crowd control on the streets of the capital on the two days of Carnival, especially around judging venues. Bands should not be allowed to have as many vehicles in bands. The prize structure must be also restructured. But, the NCC needs to sit down with all SIGs and properly plan Carnival.”
• Colin Greaves (Islandpeople Mas): “We would like to see the NCC implement proper road management strategies to ensure a smoother flow of bands on Carnival day, taking into consideration the many different facets involved, like crowd control, security for masqueraders, management of vendors, and proper sanitary conveniences for spectators and masqueraders. “There is need for a greater consolidatory effort for all stakeholders. “From a personal point of view, I would like to see a greater emphasis to ensure that traditional mas doesn’t die. There’s also need for greater marketing of pre-Carnival shows. Audiences just seem to be dwindling in recent years at these shows, and our traditional mas is dying.”
• Dean Ackin (Tribe): “I would like to see the entire Parade of the Bands route overhauled. I don’t have a solution for what the authorities should do but I believe every single bandleader wants the route rectified. I could live with everything else in Carnival.”
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