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Sunday 16 June 2019
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Carnival

Katzenjammers fights on

Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra from Black Rock, Tobago.
Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra from Black Rock, Tobago.

WITH a month to go until Carnival, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore says her band, Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, like many of its counterparts, needs support for Panorama.

This is because the Black Rock-based Tobago outfit, which had been sponsored by Petrotrin for the past seven years, still has not received word on its fate after the company's closure in November. Petrotrin has been replaced by two new entities: Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd and Paria Fuel Trading Company.

"Going into the preliminaries, we are safe with respect to that. But going forward into the semis and finals, we will definitely need the support," she told Newsday. She said her new position as Pan Trinbago president has, to some extent, limited her ability to seek support for the band.

Katzenjammers, which has been a consistent finalist in the medium band category of the National Panorama competition over the years, has won the title on two occasions.

Describing Katzenjammers as an institution, Ramsey-Moore said while the band has always been self-sufficient, its preparations for Panorama will be affected by the closure of Petrotrin.

"We have always been having our projects and developmental programmes in our panyard. And, yes, we will be affected in terms of our preparations for Panorama."

Ramsey-Moore said she was disappointed that no word has been forthcoming on whether the band would receive sponsorship.

The band received a letter from Petrotrin in November saying it would hold discussions with the band's management. She said the band saw the gesture as a sign of goodwill.

"We thought it was about wanting to support culture and the development of young people. And there was a breath of fresh air. We felt good about the approach coming from the company."

Ramsey-Moore said she later told the company she was concerned about sponsorship not just for Katzenjammers but all the bands Petrotrin had sponsored or assisted over the years.

"I was informed that there is a note before the new board to look at and they would have gotten back to us."

Saying by December the band still had not received word on sponsorship, Ramsey-Moore said she remained optimistic.

"We said no company is going to wait until January to tell us 'No.' We felt that even though it was not full sponsorship, maybe we could still get some financial assistance."

But, she said, she later read a newspaper article in which Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet, spoke disparagingly about Pan Trinbago and pan. She claimed Espinet, in the article, had compared the pan to a guitar.

"That was insulting. And we take insults from no one," Ramsey-Moore declared. "Despite the challenges with Petrotrin and the transformation, you cannot treat people that way, using insulting language to a significant constituency as Pan Trinbago.

"What I was expecting was that there would have at least been a discussion. But don't wait until a few weeks before the actual competition to make these comments about our organisation.

"We don't mind if you withdraw your support or your sponsorship, but the moment you write to us and tell us you will talk and you did not talk to us, I take serious umbrage at the statements made by Mr Espinet...Despite the challenges that our organisation is going through, despite our rebranding, we will not take insults from anyone."

Ramsey-Moore said Espinet must understand he was not giving the steelband a handout.

"We don't want a handout from anybody or any company. What we need is a partnership to promote our culture, to support our youth, senior citizens, communities, partnership in developing a people in a developing country."

Ramsey-Moore said she will do all in her power to ensure unsponsored bands receive support.

"I have personally supported a band from south (Trinidad) by giving them T-shirts for their competition. I will do whatever is necessary."

She also commended corporate bodies which heeded the call to assist steelbands despite the downturn in the economy.

Ramsey-Moore said Pan Trinbago was not simply "a Panorama organisation.

"Pan Trinbago is about the national instrument, human capital development and building communities. We, too, must contribute to the governance of this country. We, too, must play a role in poverty reduction, crime reduction.

"And as such, all we are asking for is partnership, not handouts."

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