Desperadoes Steel Orchestra is set to move again, to a new theatre in east Port of Spain, promised by the Prime Minister on Thursday night during his visit to their current site on Tragarete Road. The band had previously left its former home in Laventille owing to increased crime.
The spaciousness and relative sense of safety of their present site have led the panyard to blossom into a comfy liming spot in the nights leading up to Carnival, well-serviced by food and drink providers on-site.
However Dr Rowley said this will be Despers’ last Carnival at that spot which has otherwise been marked for public housing in an effort to breath new life into the city by way of more residents. Construction will begin in April and the new theatre will be ready six months after, he said. “So by Christmas, you should be in your new home in the city of Port of Spain.”
He said the new theatre would be in east Port of Spain.
Rowley said tourists could visit the panyard as part of a tour of the capital’s historic buildings, with gate-receipt revenues making the band financially self-sufficient.
“A cruise ship comes into Port of Spain with 20,000 passengers, and a few hundred of them decide they want to hear a steelband. They take a drive up Heritage Road to see the Magnificent Seven, they come around President’s House.” He said some tourists will want to see a show at NAPA, while others could view a 30-45 minute show at Despers.
“It’s not going to be a free-for-all, but is going to be so designed that you can charge a fee for persons coming there.”
Rowley said, for various reasons even when Despers played the best music, its old site at Laventille Road had not attracted a desired number and type of visitor. He hoped for better at the new site.
“But in that corner, if you do what we conceptualise and if you continue being as disciplined as you are and manage your band in the way some other bands are managed, and see management as a business, as recreation, as talent being expressed, Despers could be entering another phase by Christmas 2020. That’s what we have in store for you.”
He wished the band well at Panorama, although saying he was an Invaders fan.
Otherwise, Rowley said he could not play pan to save his life but had been fascinated by it since boyhood and was very glad it was the national instrument.