Stoute Next Generation Bandleader Candice Chang-Sandy has taken issue with the reduction of grants and prizes offered to Tobago bandleaders in this year’s Carnival competitions.
The Tobago Festivals Commission was allocated $7 million to spend on Tobago’s Carnival activities but despite this, there was a reduction in competitions and prize money.
Several bandleaders also took to social media to voice their disgust over the cuts, as well as the late payment of grants.
In an interview with Tobago Today at their Sou Sou Lands mas camp, following the announcement of their 2019 Band of the Year win on Wednesday, Chang-Sandy said she believes the prize structure should be increased as the cost for associated goods and services continue to rise.
“Plenty of the stuff we still have to get from Trinidad. We still have to fight up with the air and seabridge, that’s an additional cost, there’s no reduction of those things,” Chang-Sandy told Tobago Today.
“And secondly it (grant reduction) was done without any consultation and it has a lot to do with the fact that we have no unified front representing us, so they believe that they can divide and rule. They also only provided the prize structure the week before Carnival, when people would have already invested, thinking that prizes would remain the same.”
Tobago Today understands several bandleaders visited the Scarborough office of the Tobago Festivals Commission on Wednesday and Thursday to highlight several inaccuracies and discrepancies with the judging system during the four-day festivities. It is understood that at least two bands are also threatening legal action against the TFC and chairman George Leacock over unfairness and breach of contract.
Chang-Sandy also has a varying view about Tobago having a Carnival separate from Trinidad. There has been a call from various stakeholders that the island needs its own date for Carnival since the quality of the annual event has been diminishing over the years due to direct competition from bands in Trinidad. However, Chang-Sandy believes the island has to first determine its niche market in order to strengthen the product.
“Tobago having a second carnival separate from Trinidad will be welcomed, however, I am not in agreement with moving the date of carnival. It makes no sense in my mind because if there is a national holiday, what will Tobago do when Trinidad is celebrating Carnival?” she said.
“My thing has always been we have to determine what our niche market is, we have to determine how we measure success and measurement is by no means the number of persons in a carnival band. Having ten thousand masqueraders in a band doesn’t say you had a successful product.”
The TFC has not yet advised when funds will be released for the payment of prizes for Carnival 2019.
Stoute Next Generation copped the Band of the Year title in Tobago with their portrayal Kaleidoscope We Colourz, which was a crowd pleaser.
They earned 746 points to beat El Dez and Associates’ West Indian Jungle and Astra Winchester Creations’ Solar Energy into second and third respectively.
Chang-Sandy said she was humbled by the win, noting it was a family effort as it was their legacy of continued passion for the mas from her mother and mas veteran Gloria Stoute which keeps the band going.
“We decided to do things a little differently so we had three designers from Tobago, homegrown. We had the tie-dye section that showed the different blend of colours that we would showcase at Store Bay and different places that we would showcase our different craft that was designed by Winston Chadband.
“Then we looked at the national colours because we didn’t think that we could talk about colours without mentioning the red, white and black and that was designed by my niece Sarah Jane Stoute and then we had colours of nature where we looked at the rainforest for inspiration.... and that was designed by my brother Roger Stoute and lastly, we looked at the colours of the sunset,” she said of the band’s portrayal.