WE HAVE to commend the authorities for doing their job last Friday night by turning away calypso lovers from the oversubscribed Kaiso Showkase event in San Fernando. All too often there are complaints about the Fire Service and the Police Service not enforcing the law. That they did so last week, even in the face of irate patrons, is commendable.
As we move deeper into the whirlwind of Carnival one would like to see things operating much smoother, particularly when it comes to the many privately-run events that attract thousands of patrons. These events are subject to a licensing regime that is meant to ensure the comfort and safety of all stakeholders. If promoters fail to adequately project attendance numbers by a large margin, this is a serious matter. It’s not just about resisting the urge to sell too many tickets. It’s also about ensuring safety is paramount.
The State, too, has a special duty to put its own house in order to ensure everything runs smoothly. This is not limited to only law enforcement matters. It’s also about the low-key, bureaucratic things like disbursals.
Over the weekend, National Carnival Commission chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters stated allocations were pending. Without such funds, plans to invest in the Play Whe International Soca Monarch, Chutney Soca Monarch, and Brass Bacchanal were left in limbo. Carnival happens annually. Why can’t we get these matters right?
This year, however, things are so bad that in Tobago, the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) has announced an intention to sue the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) over its failure to provide funding for 2019. The THA says TUCO’s Tobago arm failed to engage in the standard disbursal procedure, while TUCO’s lawyers say the entity that sought to engage TUCO, the Tobago Festivals Commission, is of dubious legal standing.
These are the kinds of problems that are preventing our Carnival from getting truly fired up. Perhaps they are why this country is failing to maximise its potential when it comes to using Carnival as a springboard for tourism revenue.
A recent article on “the world’s best carnivals,” which was published in the UK’s Daily Mail and widely circulated, failed to even mention Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica, however, is mentioned, and is described as “calypso central.” Little wonder.
We do not point this out to begrudge our Caribbean neighbours. As the list of finalists for the International Soca Monarch demonstrates, Carnival is something that unites us. But it is clear that we have a long way to go when it comes to pushing our national festival forward.