The killing of Carnival?

However, we all know, even if the Government does not, that sums of money do not equate to meaningful support or development.

Our Steelbands, Calypso, Soca and Chutney, and the whole magnificent spectacle of Mas, have all been relegated, in terms of development, support and facilities, to a status well below Mr Manning’s personal choices of 1940’s American “Big Bands” and European Symphony Orchestras.

Steelband music, created and developed in the heart of our inner cities, is a unique and world recognised music form. However, the movement has been stalled in its original panyards since its inception, and nothing has been or is being done to harness the talent and pride of the nation as a meaningful and iconic part of our culture.

To this day, there is no Pan Theatre in our country. The UNC government, to their credit, started construction of a Headquarters Building for Pan Trinbago, some ten years ago. But it was the wrong concept (we see no space for the Pan Theatre in the incomplete, long-abandoned structure), and certainly the wrong location. The PNM government, while occasionally telling us construction would recommence, has basically ignored the building.

Dr Eric Williams once set about “tours of the panyards,” a political gambit whereby he visited the bigger panyards in Port-of- Spain, but nothing ever came out of those visits. In the meantime the music form has spread through Europe and North America, where it seems to enjoy a more fertile developmental environment than it does here.

It is ironic, that Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s only panyard visit, as far as we are aware, this year was to the Yard now abandoned in fear by Desperadoes, they now squatting in a parking lot in Belmont.

Soca, the calypso hybrid which has become immensely popular— even if older people are not enthralled with it—has no place to hold their huge shows. The promoters of these concert-fetes were told by the Government to go and build their own facilities! The Carnival Centre of the World—the Queen’s Park Savannah and its old Grand Stand and temporary North Stand ( “put it up, then take it down…”was Kitchener’s refrain) had been targeted for its long overdue upgrade with the construction of a suitable facility to host Panorama, Dimanche Gras and the Parades of the Bands. Former Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams had announced that the Grand Stand would be taken down and replaced with the new, Carnival-specific Festival Arena. Carnival was to be evicted from the savannah for one year during construction.

Now, some four years later, the ground has not yet been broken.

But what has been going on while our Carnival elements are wandering the streets, homeless? The Divine Echoes has been created, developed and funded; The National Symphony Orchestra is in training; NAPA has been completed for these new, and alien cultural forms, and Naparima Bowl is following shortly.

And then we had Marlene McDonald breathlessly and triumphantly announce that Dimanche Gras would be launched with music from the Divine Echoes.


"The killing of Carnival?"

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