Most pan lovers would already know that bpTT, one of the country’s largest earner of foreign exchange, has been long connected to the bp Renegades Steel Orchestra, the reigning Panorama champions and winners of three of the last four iterations of the competition.
However ahead of this year’s competition, which was held yesterday, the company confirmed it would be the title sponsor of Panorama.
“BpTT’s title sponsorship of Panorama 2024 builds on the company’s long-standing support for the National Panorama competitions and wider support for T&T’s national instrument. BpTT and Pan Trinbago have enjoyed a fruitful relationship spanning decades, with the company providing varying forms of sponsorship support for the National Panorama competition,” said bpTT, in response to questions sent by the Business Guardian.
The company said there was no conflict of interest in it sponsoring the National Panorama competition as well as a steelband participating in the competition.
He said, “There is no conflict of interest as we are not involved in the administration or operation of Pan Trinbago or the execution or adjudication of their various competitions, neither are we involved in the administration or operations of the bp Renegades. While we have sponsored both organisations, they make their decisions under the guidance of their own board of directors and management without involvement of bpTT—however, we are consulted whenever our brand/logo is being used.”
BpTT said its involvement as a sponsor is part of preserving the culture of pan in the country and was not tied to granting an advantage to Renegades.
The company explained, “The staging of large scale national and cultural events cannot be solely funded by the State and for this reason corporate sponsorship of these events allows them to be affordable and accessible to the public. BpTT in sponsoring the national Panorama events was simply hoping to support our cultural traditions and certainly not attempting to create an unfair advantage for a world class steel band that needs no help to win titles.
“BpTT has a long history of support for both Pan Trinbago and Renegades, which we have sponsored for 54 years and we have supported Pan Trinbago’s Panorama competitions for decades. Bp Renegades have proven themselves as one of the most successful steelbands, having won 12 times. In the past four competitions they have been crowned champions on three occasions, all based on their performances.
“Pan Trinbago is better placed to speak about the competition, including judging process and criteria,” said bpTT.
bpTT said, “It should be noted that there is a history of corporate entities sponsoring Panorama competitions while being affiliated to steel bands in the competition and bpTT is not the only corporate sponsor in the 2024 Panorama competition with a sponsored steel band also competing. There have been many years in the past where bpTT has sponsored the competition where the bp Renegades has not won. We are confident that Pan Trinbago will deliver a quality Panorama event with fair results and may the best band win.”
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore said that it was not the first time a sponsor of the National Panorama competition also sponsored a band in the competition.
“It is not a conflict of interest. Not at all. It is not the first time bp has been a sponsor to Panorama, that has been happening over the years. And we have sent out packages to a number of corporate bodies throughout Trinidad and Tobago with several scopes, such as title sponsorship, gold, premium, bronze and for us, fortunately, bp came on as a title sponsor. It’s nothing new,” Ramsey-Moore said.
The energy company confirmed that the sponsorship funding will contribute towards the cost of hosting the various pan competitions.
“BpTT’s sponsorship of the National Panorama competitions is governed by a contractual agreement between bpTT and Pan Trinbago, which sets out the terms and conditions of the sponsorship including reporting requirements,” said the company, adding that “this sponsorship is not additional to, but forms part of, the 2024 corporate responsibility budget which includes allocations for sponsorships that are aligned with our company strategy.”
The company, however, would not reveal the overall value of the sponsorship to Business Guardian.
“We would prefer Pan Trinbago to answer any questions about the title sponsorship terms,” it said.
Pan Trinbago, however, has explained that it would still be responsible for the prize structure of the competition, which will once again see the winner of the large band category winning $1 million, with second place pocketing $700,000, third $650,000, fourth and fifth $575,000 each while sixth and seventh would received $500,000 and $450,000 each. The remaining finalists earn $400,000 for an overall sum of $6 million for the large-band category.
Medium bands have a prize pool of $3.9 million with the winner taking home $600,000, and with each finalist guaranteed $250,000. Small band winners earn $400,000, but each is guaranteed $100,000 as finalists.
In 2023, Pan Trinbago paid out $14.2 million in prizes. While they remain responsible for this payout as part of the subvention from Government.
Ramsey-Moore was thankful that bpTT’s sponsorship has come to offset administrative costs.
“After Carnival, nobody thinks that Pan Trinbago has to manage its affairs on its own. We do not receive a subvention from Government outside of Carnival activities, so for six months a year we have to paddle our own canoe, and nobody looks in. But you are looking in now because you want confusion and bacchanal,” Ramsey-Moore said in an interview with Guardian Media last week.
“So when sponsors come in, it brings in additional revenue to the organisation to manage its affairs and to invest in all 300 steelbands for the rest of the year. Who gives them anything else after Carnival?” she asked.
The company said for the 2024 Carnival, it grasped the opportunity to become title sponsor of the National Panorama competition, with discussions beginning as far back as October of 2023.
“Our sponsorship reflects our continued confidence in Pan Trinbago and enables the steelpan movement to create memorable experiences for the public and for visitors to our shores. BpTT is merely a corporate sponsor of the event and is not involved with the planning or delivery of the Panorama competition.”
Apart from the Panorama sponsorship, the company also partnered with Pan Trinbago for the “Pan Around D Clock” initiative which was initially planned to be a performance space in the Savannah opposite bpTT’s head office. However, the plans were reworked following crime concerns, with the space being moved to the John Cupid Carnival Village.
The energy company noted that the steelband plays a significant role in the wider community apart from the nights of competition.
It said, “bpTT is a proud sponsor of the event given the transformative role steelbands play in the lives of the players, their families and the community within which they reside. BpTT is happy to partner with Pan Trinbago and by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago for this unique cultural artform.”
The company explained that bpTT’s decision to sponsor Panorama in 2024 was not uncommon, as it had thrown its support behind the competition for many years prior.
“BpTT has been a long-standing supporter of the National Panorama competition and has sponsored the competition for several years, including the 2023 competition. Our sponsorship throughout the years is rooted in our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility and the belief that the steelband movement can contribute to improving the well-being of players, their families and the community alike.”
However, it noted that the approach to sponsorship would be evaluated on an annual basis.