New Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore didn’t have an easy time on her first day at the beleaguered organisation, but she dealt with matters arising with maturity and a view of the long haul she faces in bringing the pan body back to prominence and effective leadership.
The recent history of the representative body for steelbands and their membership has had a particularly difficult time in the last two years and much of that turbulence has been the result of troubled management and sketchy finances.
In April, immediate past president of Pan Trinbago Keith Diaz took the extraordinary step of shutting down the organisation’s offices for, as he put it, “security reasons. The picture Diaz painted then was one of disorganisation, executive in-fighting and a lack of shared vision at the leadership level. On May 18, Pan Trinbago hit a nadir when police were called to bring order to a clash between panmen and the executive after frustrated players demanded answers about its finances. The National Carnival Commission (NCC) has placed payments on hold to Pan Trinbago awaiting clarity on its finances and debts that exceed the outstanding allocation by millions of dollars.
In early August, Pan Trinbago’s membership exploded when they were advised that the NCC would effectively take control of the organisation’s operations over the next three years. The arrangement would cover outstanding debts incurred by Pan Trinbago but would cede control of the staging of the national Panorama competition.
On October 28, eight candidates offered themselves for service as Pan Trinbago’s president. Beverly Ramsey-Moore was elected. On her arrival at the office this week, Ramsey-Moore was greeted with a letter from Amar Property Developers Ltd, calling for outstanding payments of $200,000 with a penalty of eviction and then managed what she charitably described as a “dust up” between former secretary Richard Forteau and Diaz.
The new president will need to keep that composure and hold firmly to the principles of meaningful change in order to restore the dignity of Pan Trinbago and win the confidence of the musicians it represents. Her challenges are significant. First on the agenda should be a full audit of Pan Trinbago’s finances for the last five years, beginning with the last two, which were hallmarked by irregularities that punished players the hardest.
Restoring confidence in the organisation will be a daunting task, beginning with winning the support of staff – unpaid for six months – the membership, fractured by years of infighting, and finally the public, who have demonstrated a willingness, through concerts like the Big 5 series, to support efforts that are staged by a unified, clear-thinking steelband movement.