Calypsonians hoping to secure a place in the national finals of the Calypso Monarch competition may have to prepare for less prize money this year.
Just over two weeks before the scheduled February 3 semi-final rounds of the Calypso Fiesta competition at Skinner Park, San Fernando, PRO of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Ras Kommanda said the body, “has not received a dime from government.”
Borrowing a phrase from fellow Calypsonian Tigress (Joanne Rowley), Kommanda called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley “to put some fire in the Ministry of Culture ‘oo,ah,ah.’ to give us the money.”
Last week, organisers of the International Soca Monarch competition announced a scaled-down version of the Fantastic Friday event and a reduction in its prize structure. The Chutney Soca Monarch organisers also had to reorganise that competition, as its subvention was also chopped. Kommanda said, “At this point, we are still in discussions about the prize structure for the National Calypso Monarch competition, the premier Dimanche Gras event which attracts both local and foreign audiences.
“I suspect we are no different from the other Carnival organisations, we are not isolated from what is happening with the economic downturn, so we may have to look as well at our prize structure.
However, he said, despite not having received an allocation, “We are pressing ahead with all of our competitions. Registration for the junior segment is taking place; the seniors registration has closed off. All plans are in motion for Calypso Fiesta on February 3, with 40 calypsonians vying for one of 15 places in the finals.”
The 15 selected will come up against reigning monarch, Dr Hollis Liverpool, the Mighty Chalkdust.
Kommanda said in 2017, the organisation received its subvention on January 10, but Carnival was celebrated later.
“This year the Carnival is earlier (February 12 and 13) and as of today, we have not received our subvention. It seems as though they are carrying us down to the wire. But we are hoping that good sense will prevail and they give us the money by this weekend.”
He said all the calypso tents have completed rehearsals and are ready for opening this weekend. Klassic Russo opened last night at City Hall, Port of Spain, Kaiso Caravan and Kaiso Showkase are opening tonight and its flagship tent, Kaiso House, tomorrow at the Globe Cinema.
“Usually we pay out a little stipend early to the people involved so they could organise their clothes and get their music scores written,” Kommanda said. “We have to pay for the band, venues, a lot of other things. Right now we are literally begging people we work with, our partners in the business, to give us some sort of reprieve.”