Days after the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation complained that it still had not received government funding for this year’s celebration, the organisers of regional Carnival say they, too, are in limbo.
And with the celebration already in full gear, they are hoping Government, through the National Carnival Commission (NCC), will release money to assist with their activities.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced almost two weeks ago there would be a one-third cut in financial donations for all events which receive sponsorship from the ministry and its agencies.
Sunday Newsday understands that money has been allocated for Carnival stakeholders. However, up to news time, last evening, there still was no word on state allocations for events.
The chairmen of regional Carnival bodies, in separate Sunday Newsday interviews, said events in their communities already have already been scaled down significantly because of the lack of funding. Despite the challenges, however, they are optimistic the funding will be disbursed.
“I would expect that it is forthcoming,” said Michael Simpson, chairman of the Arima Carnival Committee. “I live in optimism, dealing with culture you have to be.”
Aware of the country’s precarious financial situation, Simpson said the committee approached the corporate community in the borough for assistance and got a favourable response.
“So, we are busy making approaches to potential sponsors so we can keep the spirit of Carnival alive. Strange enough, a couple of them have been coming forward and I must say we are very appreciative.”
No Arima Panorama
Simpson said the committee already has ruled out having its Panorama competition.
“One thing I know we cannot afford this year is for Arima to have its own Carnival. Even if we get donations and subventions, we will not be able to do that this year.” However, he said they were still hoping to stage the junior and senior calypso competitions as well as the parade of the bands but the borough would not have an official launch.
“We cannot go committing ourselves when we do not have funds to put to back it up. So, we are taking the pragmatic approach.”
In the interim, Simpson said bandleaders were still eager to participate in the celebration.
“We have actually been slow in setting up registration. It started on Saturday (yesterday) because they have all been calling and asking what is happening. By this week, we will have a clear idea of how many bands we are going to have.”
Eddie Hart, chairman of the Tunapuna Carnival Committee, told Sunday Newsday the organisation began planning for the event, months ago, but were yet to receive word from the NCC on whether any funding would be made available.
“Carnival is an early thing. You can’t do things now for now because Carnival needs all-year planning, especially with the economic situation where you have people bawling to put out funds,” he said.
To compound matters, Hart said the businessmen in the town had not committed themselves to providing financial assistance to the committee.
Nevertheless, the former Tunapuna MP said the committee had compiled their list of activities.
Hart said the committee did not receive any state funding last year.
“The money was given to the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation. We did not get anything but the Carnival still came out although it was not what we would have liked it to be.” He was hopeful the NCC would come forward to assist.
‘We going ahead’
While a subvention would be welcomed if and when it did come, chairman of the Sangre Grande Carnival and Festivals Committee Lorraine Heath said they were going ahead with their agenda.
Saying the committee worked alongside the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation (SGRC) in hosting Carnival, she said: “We began planning most of our events since September, last year. But we have sought corporate sponsorship because we realised that with the economic downturn, we don’t expect the Government would be able to sustain that kind of funding any more.”
Heath said, however, the committee’s practice of going to outlying communities to host some of its events was no longer feasible.
The committee received $170,000, from the state last year, Heath said, noting the committee expected there would be cuts across the board.
“But we have had to be creative and innovative in the way we execute and plan,” she said, adding the community was still very much involved in bringing Carnival presentations.
“The schools are very active in having presentations for kiddies Carnival but I don’t know how the senior parade of the bands will be.”
Heath, a former councillor, said the senior bands might be affected by a shortfall in patronage due to unemployment. “I don’t even know what the turnout is going to be like throughout the region and in Sangre Grande.
“But whatever masqueraders we have, be it kiddies or adults, all are invited to the parade on Carnival Tuesday. It is all about showcasing to the community, more than the competition and winning prizes.”
Heath said the absence of funding, thus far, had not prevented them from doing their job. “We have a plan. We cannot wait for the state to give us funding. That makes no sense.”
Chairman of the Chaguanas Carnival Committee Anthony Charran said the organisation’s plans would not be derailed because of a lack of funding.
However, he said the central borough’s events had been scaled down.
“Everything is in the pipeline. But it will not be business as usual.”
The committee launches its activities today at 6 pm with a calypso show at the Chaguanas Market Square carpark.
“It would not be as fancy as before but it will give some life and relief in terms of what is happening for Carnival.” Charran, too, was optimistic that a subvention would be forthcoming.
“Things are taking some time but hopefully we should be getting some subvention before Carnival start.”