NATIONAL Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters has urged Pan Trinbago “to do something” with the plot of land off the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in Tacarigua designated for the past several years to house its headquarters.
Gypsy made the comments as Pan Trinbago distributed prizes to the finalists and winners of its single pan competition, held on February 3 at the Arima Velodrome. The prize distribution took place yesterday at Pan Trinbago’s head office, Duke and Melbourne Streets, Port of Spain.
Peters said to the gathered pannists, “That eyesore that we have going up on the highway...that should never be. I am one to tell them, and I told the president that too, I said the day I become the Minister of Culture in this country again...if Pan Trinbago does not do something with that place, I would personally go to Cabinet and make sure that they take it back from them and make sure they do something else for culture with it.
“And I mean it. And I don’t want that to happen.” The land was given to pan’s governing body in 2002. A 2011 newspaper report said the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government had allocated $7 million for completion of the headquarters, which had been delayed for years.
A 2013 report by a parliamentary joint select committee said the project had been at a standstill for a number of years and as a result, the steel used was deteriorating and required immediate attention. Continuing inaction, it said, would result in the loss of money already invested.
At that point the project was due to be completed in late 2013, but the committee warned, "There should be a strict deadline for the contractors to adhere to in order to ensure its completion in a timely manner." The Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) website still lists the status of the project as "conceptual."
Peters told Pan Trinbago, “Sell cake, put on pan shows” in order to do “something with that thing there.”
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore interjected, "It is a new day. Let us not go back. It is a new executive."
Gypsy said yesterday he was happy with how pan was being governed at present. Ramsey-Moore said the organisation had approached the NCC for more funds and the NCC promised to “look for additional funding.”
Gypsy said he promised to seek additional funding because “change brings about change and when you see things changing for the better you have to try to help change it along.”
He added that steelpan should have been much further along, had it not been for religion.
“The next thing we did in this country was created the steelpan, and the steelpan could have been much further had it not been for – I don’t want to blame religion in every way, but yes, they played a big part in the suppression of our steelpan movement,” he said.
“Smartmanism,” he said, was also an obstacle. “We are suppressing it with ‘smartmanism,’ because everything that is supposed to be done to ensure that the pan go forward was stymied by the very people who were supposed to take it forward...And we have another word for it, crookedness.
“And if we continue to do that in our country, we will get nowhere. As a right-thinking person...I believe that the pan now I am seeing is a different direction. I am seeing that what is supposed to be done is being done, and I am paying close attention to it,” Gypsy said.
He added that he has a responsibility to ensure that when the NCC does anything, “it is done in the way that it is supposed to be done.”