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Invaders lose State sponsor

Saturday, January 13, 2018
Jelani Mc Mato of Trinity College Moka, practises with his school’s band for the Junior Panorama Competition at the Invaders Steel Orchestra panyard on Tragerate Road, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Photo by:ABRAHAM DIAZ

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has pulled its sponsorship of the Invaders Steel Orchestra. In a release yesterday, the airline said they were unable to reach agreement with the band on title sponsorship for 2018.

CAL said it offered sponsorship of $400,000 which is just over 10 per cent less than the $450,000 paid in 2017.

“Unfortunately, this figure was not acceptable to Invaders who were requesting $800,000, an almost 80 per cent increase over the 2017 sum of $450,000.

“Invader’s management also indicated to Caribbean Airlines that they had an additional sponsor and could only offer Caribbean Airlines shared sponsorship, or title sponsorship, until March 2018,” the airline said.

A source in the band told the T&T Guardian the steelband is currently negotiating with another corporate entity for sponsorship. However, manager of Invaders Michael Dinchong said the news “came as a big surprise to us.”

Dinchong said CAL’s marketing manager Alicia Cabrera informed the band in a letter dated January 10 that as a result of “financial constraints” they were unable to continue sponsorship.

For the past decade, CAL has been funding the band which was used as a cultural ambassador during the Carnival season. Invaders regularly performed at Piarco International Airport to welcome arriving passengers.

“One does not appreciate we get this news inside of Panorama,” he said, adding that the steelband submitted a budget to CAL last October.

“We were not expecting the sponsorship to be pulled. However, with prudent management we were always preparing for the shortfalls. During the year we saved our money so we would go into our personal savings now to make sure we get into the Panorama finals. We have to be resilient. In terms of our bank account, on Ash Wednesday...we will wait and see,” he said.

Dinchong said it costs the band roughly $600,000 to compete in the Panorama finals.

Although Invaders has never won the title, they hope this year to take home the $1 million first prize at stake in the finals on February 10.

Judging in the preliminary rounds of the small, medium and large conventional steelband categories begins on Monday.

Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz said as far as he knew the only band whose sponsorship was cut was Invaders.

“As I spoke to you today no band has indicated to me that their sponsorship has pulled out,” he said.


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