CAPTAIN of San City Steel Orchestra Aquil Arrindell has written to Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore suggesting that she cut the Panorama prize money for 2019 so players could be paid a stipend.
Some bands have already said, without the promised stipend, they were finding it difficult to field a full quota for the national competition. Large bands have a complement of 100, smaller bands up to 75 players and small bands over 35.
The president disagreed with the suggestion. She has made it clear no stipend would be paid to players participating in the 2019 and 2020 competitions because of a cut in the allocation. But in his letter, shared with the Newsday, Arrindell said, in 2015, there was consensus that with a $30 million budget, the organisation would have been able to pay $1 million to the band placing first and $1,000 for every player.
He argued, “Whatever percentage the new budget is reduced by, all monies to bands and players should be cut at that percentage.
“For example, it was reported that PanTrinbago has a $20 million budget, that is one-third less than the $30 million budget for 2015. It would mean that all the monies given to bands and players would be cut by one-third, which means the winning band would now receive $667,000 and pan players, $667.
He said a cross-the-board cut would allow the burden to be shared evenly rather than by players alone. Expressing support for both his president and members of the organisation, Arrindell said he was representing the best interest of his players, who like many others, were yet to receive their 2018 stipend. “This issue is affecting 75 players I am leading. I am their voice.” He said he intended to raise his voice against any oppression against them, as executive members, tuners, arrangers, drill masters, drummers, janitors, electricians, track stewards among other Panorama workers had all been paid while members of the organisation suffered.
“These people make more than the pan players for one night of work, while players toil for one and a half months and nothing for them.” He added, “Share the burden, come to the membership, give us the power to make our own decisions as you promised before being elected.”
While sympathetic to Arrindell’s position, Ramsey-Moore called on him and other leaders and players to “hold strain,” promising to make it up to them when PanTrinbago “gets back on its feet.”
“I know it’s painful,” she said, “but I can tell you it is not only the players’ remittance that was not paid. We are owing truckers, we are owing maxi men. We paid the prize money, but the stark reality is that we cannot afford to (pay panmen) at this time.”