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$m prize cut, one song alone: Big changes for Dimanche Gras

Published: 
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Tuco president Lutalo Masimba (Bro Resistance) address calypsonians at Saturday's meeting at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

There will be no million dollar first prize for the winner of this year’s National Calypso Monarch competition and competitors can only sing one song for Dimanche Gras.

These were among the changes approved on Saturday, at an extraordinary meeting of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco).

The meeting, which was chaired by Tuco’s president Lutalo Masimba (Brother Resistance), voted to reduce expenditure across the board. The first prize for the 2017 Calypso Monarch will now be $800,000.

The decision is in keeping with a 25 per cent cut to allocations to all Carnival special interest groups.

The meeting, held at the National Carnival Commission VIP room, Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, attracted the largest turnout of calypsonians to a meeting in recent years.

At the meeting it was also agreed that the prize structure of different calypso competitions will be discussed and developed by the organisation’s general council.

Masimba urged calypso tent owners/managers to be mindful of the cuts in allocation when seeking corporate sponsorship and engaging service providers. It is expected that calypsonians will also get a cut in salary at all calypso tents.

Several other significant changes were made to the national calypso competition. Instead of eight bards being selected to face the defending monarch, 15 will be chosen to sing one selection instead of the traditional two.

Another change is that the “aggregate” method of judging, the panel comprising seven adjudicators, will be adopted this year. This replaces the “specialists system” which was utilised for the past five years, requiring 15 judges.

Masimba also announced that a category final will be held, comprising Political, Social and Humourous calypsoes, with winners of each receiving $25,000 instead of the $50,000 in years past.

Breaking away from the tradition of a calypsonian “dropping a bomb” on the night of final competition with a new, unheard song, the calypso registered for the Monarch competition by the competitor will be the only calypso that will be recognised for the competition.

This also means that calypsonians whose songs did not find favour with the judges for the Skinner Park semi-final will not be permitted to perform new songs in the unattached eliminations competitions.

Saturday’s meeting was described as well-disciplined and organised one with members, especially Garth St Clair, Duane O’Connor, Bally, Brother J, King Soul and Mac, making valuable contributions from the floor.

Masimba told the gathering that one of Tuco’s prime objectives is to make the organisation entirely independent.

Mindful of the responsibilities of Pan Trinbago and the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) now being assumed by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) in running Carnival competitions, he urged the membership to work towards Tuco staging its own competitions and events without any external assistance from the Government.

After the meeting Tuco’s PRO Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall) told the T&T Guardian: “The executive would like to thank the entire membership for the mature manner in which all these important decisions were made and to ensure them that despite whatever adversity that may confront us we are quite capable to handle the challenges.”