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Thursday 23 May 2019
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The show must go on

Carnival stakeholders from throughout the country at the Distribution of Subvention ceremony hosted last Friday by the Regional Carnival Committee of the National Carnival Commission, VIP Lounge, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
Carnival stakeholders from throughout the country at the Distribution of Subvention ceremony hosted last Friday by the Regional Carnival Committee of the National Carnival Commission, VIP Lounge, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

Owing to significant reductions in their Carnival funding, some regional Carnival committees have decided to find creative ways to run their respective celebrations. Regional committees have found different avenues of dealing with the reduction.

As reported in the February 16 Newsday front-page story, regional Carnival representatives were upset by the significantly smaller subvention they received at a ceremony at the Queen’s Park Savannah last Friday.

One such regional committee taking a pragmatic view is Tunapuna. Kwasi Robinson, the local economic development officer of the Tunapuna Corporation who has oversight over the Carnival celebrations, said regional Carnival committees had to be more creative.

Robinson has responsibility for both Tunapuna and Arouca’s regional Carnival celebrations. He said there was some lost opportunity in years gone by to "be prudent with spending and just to manage Carnival itself.”

He does not see a big fallout from the reduction. “When you look at who makes significant money from Carnival, it is not the revellers or the people who make it happen. It is sound-system people, lights, people who rent toilets, tables and chairs.

“What we need now is to re-align our expenditure to make sure that money is in the hands of the masmen, the pan players, the calypsonians, because they are (the people) who provide the content for the Carnival."

He said it was necessary to focus on what brought people to Carnival.

"I could do a big sound system with $40,000 or I can do some self-powered monitors for $5,000 and give three bands $5,000 each and I have $20,000 – and my event is much better than what I would have spent.”

He said the region's subvention had been reduced by about 20 per cent and, as a result, some events had been merged while others were cut. He said while there was to be calypso in Arouca, the calypso in Tunapuna would be cancelled then the region would host its actual Carnival events starting from J’Ouvert morning, ole mas on Monday morning and pretty mas on Tuesday. He added there would also be a joint Kiddies Carnival on Sunday.

Lorraine Heath, chairman of Sangre Grande Regional Festivals Committee, also said the committee had to be very innovative in how it disbursed funds.

While there was an almost 40 per cent reduction in funding, Heath said the committee had sought to lobby and request sponsorship for most of its “logistics,” – that is anything required to host events such as stages, tents and chairs.

Heath said the National Carnival Commission’s (NCC) recommendation was to reduce the number of events in accordance with the allocation but her committee had, what it called, "standard events" and the removal of any of those would upset the dynamics of the ones that remained.

She added the committee had decided to lobby and request sponsorship for most of its logistics since that took up "a very large chunk of the funding.”

Heath said prizes would also be reduced as they were last year. “We liaised with our stakeholders and informed them of the reduction, and as chairman I speak to them on a one-to-one basis. They do understand, but we have not compromised on the quality of the initiatives...even if it means taking money from our own pockets, we have not compromised.

“We have just been innovative and creative in how we expend the subvention received.”

Heath said the committee had also merged some events so as not to duplicate the use of resources. The committee has also sought assistance from other regional bodies such as the Tunapuna and Sangre Grande corporations.

It still plans to host a number of events such as its Carnival village and queen show before the full Carnival celebrations.

Brennon Patterson, chairman of the Arima Carnival Committee, said it anticipated a cut so it partnered with “a lot of the private promoters to bring a lot of events to Arima. For example, we brought back Soca Monarch semis.”

Patterson said they learnt to be resilient in Arima and decided that its Carnival would go on despite the drop in the subvention. The committee’s funding was cut by 25 per cent, he said, and as a result it had to cancel its senior calypso competition.

He said, “Even though it is significantly less than what we got last year, we will do what we have to do and ensure that the Carnival continues and people in Arima can look forward to something.”

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