THEY may not have won titles but since 1973, Rio Claro Koskeros has featured prominently in the Panorama scene.
With the first phase of judging for small bands for Panorama scheduled to take place in the south on January 22, Koskeros leader Kenny Pascal is not sure he will be able to field enough players to take part this year now that the incentive has been taken away.
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore recently announced the inability of the pan body to pay player’s a stipend for 2019 and 2020.
Pascal yesterday asked about the 2018 stipend. He said his unsponsored band, the only one between Mayaro and San Fernando that competed at Panorama, was made up of mainly young players who were looking forward to the stipend of $1,000.
“How do they expect leaders to get players to come out to play pan when they cannot get this stipend they were promised. This is preventing me from attracting players for Panorama 2019. I have been putting off their (players) questions about payment but with this announcement by the president, I can no longer make excuses.
“These children earned the right to this stipend. They have been in the pan yard night after night at all kinds of odd hours and now you are telling them they cannot get their money. They make sure and found money to pay Pan Trinbago staff who worked and were not paid for seven months under the former administration. These children worked hard for this money and they should get their just due,” Pascal said in a telephone interview.
“Why is it every time we in power the steelband has to suffer like that?”
He said apart from Koskeros being a community band bringing people together, it has helped in honing the skills of young people and keeping them out of trouble.
“When they are in the yard, they develop discipline, time management. I have control of them at this time and I can talk to them about staying out of trouble, smoking, misbehaving when they are under my care.
Reacting to a suggestion from Ramsey-Moore that the bands raise funds to assist their players, Pascals replied, “if the economy is bad how I am going to get people to come and spend money to help out the band? You are talking about the economy, across the board. How much cake sale I can have to encourage people to come out and buy to meet the first phase of judging in less than 20 days?”
He said only the winners of the various categories would have won money and would be able to pay their players something.
“So is Panorama only for the finalist in the small, medium and large categories?
“There are over 200 bands, about 10 to 11 emerge in winner’s row, what about the others like Koskeros who do not win but is there every year playing our hearts out. We are unsponsored. We get a little help from few corporate citizens, but big band or small band we have the same expense to prepare for competition, pay tuners, purchase paint, provide meals and travelling expenses for players. This is going to be a bleak season, but I am not giving up just yet.”