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Sunday 24 March 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Pan needs better future

THE EDITOR: It was very kind of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to offer words of encouragement to our young pannists, as he toured panyards on Friday evening.

I was struck, especially, by the advice he gave to the youngsters in Nutrien Silver Stars steel orchestra. He was happy to see so many young people, in this large band, and told them to always strive for success.

On the other hand, I was saddened to read in a Sunday newspaper, that the governing body for pan in TT, Pan Trinbago, had cashed in its shares in a local pan manufacturing company, Panland, which, today, is struggling to survive.

This comes on the heels of a 2011 US television clip (which recently surfaced) about a pan manufacturing company, Panyard Inc in Akron, Ohio, USA, that is doing great things.

A 2017 article from http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20170723/news/170729930/kenmore-firm-hit-steel-drum-industry stated that this company made sales of US$1 million in 2016.

The Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) had developed a Proposal on the Steelpan Manufacturing Industry for Export, but its Chairman, Dr Terrence Farrell, in January 2018, resigned in frustration.

Shortly, thereafter, in April 2018, the Keith Rowley Government disbanded the EDAB.

Pan Trinbago has never developed a business model for the steel pan. It is very sad that over the years, the officers of Pan Trinbago seemed to be all about themselves, and not about developing the industry. This has culminated in hundreds of our pannists, not being paid a stipend for their many, many hours of sacrifice and practice for Panorama 2019.

This might be a blessing in disguise, as it would spur the entrepreneurial spirit, in the individual bands, to become self-sufficient.

However, as long as Pan Trinbago remains inert, the future of pan, as an industry, is not bright.

Linus F Didier, Mt Hope

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