With its new leadership, including a one-time soca star at the helm, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) must now set a course which allows it to bring all stakeholders on board under a revitalised vision for Carnival.
The challenge for Lucas, a former Port Authority chairman, who was last week appointed NCC chairman, is both short-term and long-term. He must oversee the smooth unrolling of Carnival 2018. But he must also come up a plan of action to produce and implement a fresh policy that takes Carnival out of the doldrums.
Lucas, best known for his 1991 smash hit Dollar Wine, is quite candid when it comes to what he can achieve at this late hour. “While I can’t claim to be an expert on Carnival – and I’m not required to be actually – I am just required to make sure we can bring the best talent to bear on making Carnival the best it can be,” he said, moments after receiving his instrument of appointment.
For sure, Lucas and the new board have already started their task at a disadvantage. The term of the last board, headed by Kenny DeSilva, came to an end at the start of this month. With mere weeks to go before Carnival, the NCC must now undergo transition from one board to the next. This is not only distracting, it adds unnecessary burden on those who volunteer their time to serve and disrupts the line of accountability essential to ensure quality in the delivery of the NCC’s statutory mandate.
The tenure of NCC officials should be structured in such a way as to ensure transitions do not clash with preparations; enable accountability; and give them enough time to familiarise themselves with the rhythms of the organisation.
Has the time come to reconsider the length of the tenure of the NCC board? Is the two year period consistent with the NCC’s mandate to, “make Carnival a viable national, cultural and commercial enterprise”? Can a board truly work, “to ensure the efficient and effective presentation and marketing of the cultural products of Carnival”, overseeing just two Carnivals?
How much time will the new board have to devote itself to the establishment of, “arrangements for ongoing research, the preservation and permanent display of the annual accumulation of Carnival products?” While it is good to rotate personnel, providing a constant stream of fresh perspectives, have arrangements pertaining to the board enhanced or hindered the NCC? Many would say the latter.
DeSilva should be lauded for serving as chairman not once, but twice. His tenure saw much work done to attempt to bring the diverse Carnival stakeholders into line. This kind of commitment and dedication is what is required to get this festival back on course. While there is much that remains energetic and encouraging in Carnival, there is also much that is in need of re-organisation and updating.
Carnival can be so much more than what it currently is. We need to become serious about making it a linchpin of our tourism industry. Yet, this is not only a matter of the NCC. It also requires a change in mindset from all of the stakeholders, including the PanTrinbago, Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), and the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA).
The annual ritual of disagreement over the route for the Parade of the Bands, for instance, is a matter that should become a thing of the past. There is nothing wrong with the route constantly changing after due consultation. But the fragmented approach to the matter that sometimes occurs, presents unnecessary challenges to a festival that must be properly secured.
Meanwhile, we wish the new NCC board best of luck. As ephemeral as Carnival is, we hope they get to make a lasting impression.