One of the premier mas designers in the Carnival arena, Lionel Jagessar yesterday applauded the government for allowing him to share his knowledge in the arts via its recently concluded Mentoring by the Masters Programme.
“The future of Indian Mas is in good hands with this programme. I am so glad the government could give us this opportunity to keep the mas alive. The programme was great and it was a pleasure to do it. One of my wishes was not just to have people come and play mas, but learn to work and deal with the mas,” Jagessar said.
Jagessar, band leader of San Fernando-based Lionel Jagessar and Associates, was one of five ‘Masters’ for the programme, a project of the National Registry of the Artists and Cultural Workers. The initiative was developed five years ago, under the Community Development Culture and Arts Ministry, in commemoration of this country’s 50 years of Independence.
Apart from the field of Fancy Indian Mas, for this year, ‘Masters’ mentored participants in Children’s Mas, aspects of Music Production and the Business of Music, Orisha traditions and Professional Development in Broadcasting.
Yesterday the Ministry hosted the Fancy Mas exhibition at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts at San Fernando. Jagessar reiterated that Indian Mas is not just a traditional-type mas but one capable of winning prestigious titles such as Band of the Year, and King and Queen of the Bands.
“A couple occasions my band won band of the year in San Fernando. I do not play other types of mas. I am a designer, I could design other types of mas and play other types of mas. I just try to prove that Indian mas is mas too. I will not turn into stone and if I do not share my talent, it will eventually die,” Jagessar said.
During the programme, Jagessar taught the participants bead-working techniques, arrangements of features and other techniques. His son Lionel Jagessar Junior was also one of his participants.
He added: “My children are naturals in the arts because they grew up in the mascamp. I did not have to teach them to work mas or anything. It is something natural to them.”
Cultural Support Specialist with Culture Division of the Minister Nadya Shah noted the programme was an invaluable one in terms of the transfer of knowledge by masters in culture.
In delivering remarks at the exhibition, Permanent Secretary Angela Edwards told the gathering that it was of utmost importance for the ministry to thank and show tangible appreciations to this country’s cultural icons.
Edwards publicly thanked the Jagessar family more so the “illustrious icon” and his wife Rosemary Jagessar for their contributions to Carnival. Rosemary and her son, Junior, are the reigning South King and Queen of Carnival. It was her fifth title as South Queen.