Money is a problem, but hard times will not be standing in the way of four unsponsored calypso tents for Carnival 2020.
These are Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins' Icons Calypso Tent; Divas Cabaret International Tent, run by Dr Rudolph Ottley, the Calypso Revue Tent led by Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna, and the Back to Basics Calypso Tent under Winston "Gypsy" Peters who also heads the National Carnival Commission. (NCC)
Cro Cro said on Wednesday, “We have to wait as usual for a little funding from the government, and when we get it we have to use it as best as we could to make it work.”
But he will be opening Icons, as usual, in Fyzabad, on January 31, before coming to Port of Spain to take up residence at the Ambassador Hotel in St James.
Icons will run from Thursday to Saturday every weekend until Carnival, with some 17 calypsonians on its cast, among them, Heather MacIntosh, Gary Cordoner, Dictator and Cro Cro.
Ottley's Divas Cabaret International will open on February 4, at Kafe Blue on Wrightson Road, and run until Carnival Saturday.
In terms of financing, Ottley said, “We had issues with support as usual. Although the government assists us a little with financing, last year we didn’t get it until six weeks after last Carnival and there is nothing from them so far for this year.”
So the tent will only open for seven nights, February 4, 6, 8, and 11-14, ending in a party at Kafe Blue. The cast includes Karen Eccles-Thomas, Stacey Sobers, Maria Bhola, Sherissee Collymore, Meguella Simon, and MC Jillian Scott.
The Kalypso Revue Tent is on course to have its traditional opening in Arima on January 24, and will move to its home base at SWWTU on January 25 and in San Fernando on January 26.
Tent manager Osouna said he was hoping to have the tent open up to Carnival Friday, unlike last year when it had to close its doors long before Carnival for lack of funds. Once open, the tent will run every weekend, Thursday-Saturday, after the opening weekend. Among the cast are Chalkdust, Panther, Devon Seale, Baron, Skatie and Aloes himself.
Gypsy's Back to Basics Calypso Tent is back on track for this year’s Carnival. Gypsy said proudly, “It is the only tent in the country that is privately owned and privately funded.”
The tent is scheduled to open on January 24 at Roslyn Hall in Tunapuna, and will run until Carnival Saturday. Some 13 artistes have been contracted, among them Rio, Funny, Luta, Tobago Crusoe, M’ba, Exposer, Bongo Spear, Tranquil and Gypsy, who will be competing in all competitions this year.
Wearing his NCC hat, Peters said the organisation has got $42 million of its budget allocation but most is going towards paying people who are owed from last year, including service providers and some artistes.
He said: “Some of it is going into giving the interest groups to do some things they have to do to get off the ground quickly, but we are going to get some more soon.”
Those interest groups are the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation, Pan Trinbago, and the Carnival Bandleaders’ Association.