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Big Mike: 2013 Carnival the worst
Attendance was high on Saturday morning when the National Carnival Commission (NCC) hosted its Carnival Stakeholders Consultation—“Crystallising the Role of the NCC”—at the UTT Auditorium, National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa), Port-of-Spain. Chaired by NCC deputy chairman Don Sylvester, the consultation was attended by major stakeholders in T&T Carnival, including heads of special interest groups, bandleaders, masqueraders, calypsonians and steelband personnel.
Beginning promptly at its advertised 10 am start, following welcome remarks by NCC chairman Allison Demas, short addresses were given by Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz and Minister of the Arts & Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas. Demas revealed that the last strategic plan for Carnival was done 16 years ago, with the last consultation being held in 2007.
Pointing out that T&T Carnival has evolved over centuries, Cadiz said the intent of his ministry was not to create a carnival that looked “foreign used.” Hinting that there needed to be a more hands-on management of the annual festival by the Government and its agencies, and that the Government spent “hundreds of millions” on Carnival, he questioned how one institution could dictate on the charging of streaming of Carnival internationally.
In his address, Douglas said research was the first responsibility for the development of Carnival, adding that the Government was charged with the responsibility of making Carnival a viable revenue-earning product. The day’s programme was divided into six sessions, including The Management of Carnival; Investment: Public and Private; Assessing the Current State of Carnival; Logistics and Infrastructure; Marketing and Promotion; and, Product Development.
Each session was co-ordinated by moderators and section leaders, including Guyanese management consultant Dr Aubrey Armstrong, NCC CEO Clarence Moe, economist Indera Sagewan-Alli and Martin Franklin. Following short preambles by facilitators of sessions, the floor was opened for inputs from the audience.
Moe invited commentary on the role of the NCC, with reference being made to the NCC Act of 1991 and the subsequent Cabinet minute of 1997. Author/cultural activist Rubadiri Victor said the NCC must oversee the phenomenon of T&T Carnival internationally, warning that T&T was losing Carnival globally.
Emphasising that “Carnival 2013 was the worst ever” he’d witnessed, Legacy bandleader “Big Mike” Antoine accused the NCC of running away from its responsibility, reminding that the NCC was mandated through legislation to manage T&T Carnival. He suggested that the NCC seek the assistance of Caribbean Prestige Foundation chairman William Munro to run Carnival, to redound to the similar success Munro has had in producing the annual International Soca Monarch event.
There was loud and sustained applause when former director of culture Lester Efebo Wilkinson suggested that the NCC ought to revisit the 1991 Act to fix the organisation. He also clarified that a Cabinet note could not supercede an Act of Parliament. Wilkinson urged Douglas to take the initiative to unite the three fragmented special interest groups of mas.
He said the onus was on the Government to protect the role of the NCC. Also applauded for his input was Media 21 director Peter Scoon, who suggested that the demands of the job could kill CEO Moe, who he said should be retired. Scoon added that there was no succession planning in the NCC, with Moe having no understudy or department to carry on his work.
Among the stakeholders seen at Saturday’s consultation were Janelle Penny Commissiong Chow, Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz; Tuco chairman Lutalo Masimba (Bro Resistance); King of Carnival Gerald Weekes; bandleader Rosalind Gabriel; NCDF chairman Mahindra Satram-Maraj; former national calypso monarchs Kurt Allen and Duane O’Connor; attorney Martin Daly; and Munro.
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