The Government yesterday moved one step closer to winding up the operations of the Tourism Development Company (TDC), after the company issued its 111 workers with notices of retrenchment.
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In spite of the impasse between Pan Trinbago Inc and the National Carnival Commission (NCC), all lights are on green for the staging of the National Panorama semi-finals on Sunday for Small, Medium and Large conventional steel orchestras.
The bands will be vying for final places in the 2017 National Panorama semi-finals at the Queen's Park Savannah, from 9 am.
Yesterday, Pan Trinbago sought judicial review, heard before Justice Vasheist Kokaram in the Port-of-Spain High Court, to collect gate receipts for this year's Panorama.
There is precedent for the Panorama competition being on the front burner of court matters. Well documented is the 1979 boycott of the Panorama by steelbands, as well as years when Tokyo, birdsong, Valley Harps and Potential Symphony took the steelband body to court for what they deemed was wrongful exclusion among the qualifiers.
In the historic 1979 boycott, pan players took the action after a request for "participation incentives of $3,500 in addition to an appearance fee of $500" was rejected by the then-PNM Government.
The boycott was a success as no Panorama was cancelled and no steelband showed up at the Queen's Park Savannah on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, except Desperadoes on Tuesday evening.
The band's appearance inspired Scrunter's epic hit calypso Woman on the Bass, immortalised by Trinidad All Stars.
The preliminary round of competition for the 2017 Panorama was hotly contested at individual panyards and securing top spots going into the semis are small bands Fascinators and Tobago's Our Boys; and defending large and medium band champions Desperadoes and Pan Elders.
Though a lengthy and tedious exercise, Panorama panyard judging brings out the best in our people as thousands move from panyard to panyard, many people carpooling, others hiring maxi taxis, and several simply walking from venue to venue to enjoy the offerings by the steelbands. It's a peaceful time when crime seems to take a holiday.
I often wonder why the Government, the tourism entities and Pan Trinbago don't brand panyard judging as a tourist attraction.
It is a time when the wide variety of local cuisine, steelband memorabilia-especially jerseys, cups, bandanas, rags, CDs, publication et al-can be sold to locals and visitors. The well organised sale of liquor in panyards is also a desirable attraction, generating much needed revenue for the bands.
Though seeming far-fetched, a small cover charge for visitors with passports, upon entry to panyards, is also a means of accruing funds for steelbands.
Pan Trinbago's ability to generate revenue this year is thwarted significantly by not just the NCC manning the gates but because there will be no Greens on Sunday.
Yesterday Pan Trinbago acting president Richard Forteau expressed abject disappointment over this development.
He said: "It's not just Pan Trinbago that will be losing revenue but the many Single Band bands who would have been hired by corporate Trinidad to perform at this venue.
"We are also being deprived of creating a space to wean the younger generation on the national instrument and Panorama."
Come Sunday, Fascinators, Sforzata and Republic Bank Exodus will appear first in each of their categories when the Pan Trinbago/NLCB National Panorama semi-final gets on the way with 28 steel orchestras in the Medium and Large Bands categories joining 30 Small Bands in the Savannah Party for places in the grand finals.
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