Remove Carnival comedians

Rawle "Axeback" Titus, left, receives an award of recognition from Tobago Mas Band Leaders co-chair Terrence Sandiford last Wednesday. PHOTO COURTESY THA INFO DEPT -

Tobago Mas Bands Leaders co-chairman Terrence Sandiford has said the Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd (TFCL) is in urgent need of the right people to properly manage Carnival.

He said so last Wednesday night while delivering opening remarks at the association's Splendoria, Mas In Harmony presentation in Scarborough.

The event featured the King and Queen of Carnival competitions.

"We are about the future. The House of Assembly has to do some house-cleaning because the (Tobago) Festival Commission Ltd is in dire need of proper personnel to run this Carnival," he said.

Sandiford, an outspoken mas administrator, further accused some commission members of victimising mas leaders in Tobago.

"We have been ostracised, victimised and all kind of something because of one or two persons on the committee. And yuh know yuh boy ain't fraid to say so. And I am not an employee of the Assembly."

Sandiford said if Tobago is to build its mas product to increase the island's Gross Domestic Product, "we have to get rid of the comedians and put people in place who will be able to direct this new venture."

The commission has been at loggerheads with Carnival interest groups over funding.

Responding to Sandiford's criticism, the commission's acting chairman Penelope Williams said the mas band leaders, TUCO's Tobago zone and Pan Trinbago have asked for autonomy in terms of them running their mas.

However, she told Newsday Tobago: "In terms of the mas band leaders, they don't have the full autonomy because they did not present certain documentation. But, we would have allowed a certain level of autonomy to them and then we would have the TFCL facilitating them because we cannot allocate the funds directly to them."

Williams, who became acting TFCL chairman after the sudden resignation of Dr Suzanne Burke, on January 27, said this arrangement will have to continue until the mas leaders fulfil the requirements to get full autonomy.

The commission, which was established in May 2010, has the responsibility of planning, co-ordinating and implementing Tobago's tourism and cultural festivals.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Sandiford said a properly functioning commission would ensure the island's signature event, Tobago Jazz Festival, is financially viable.

"When we start to plan for the next festival later down in the year, that is the festival that will give economic value to Tobago. Because once it is planned properly, it could bring thousands and thousands of people here, not for two days but for a week.

"And so you will have all of the guesthouses filled. You will have luxury liners with people on board coming to play mas and go back and sleep because they would not have room for them."

Sandiford said Carnival is a year-round activity.

"I want you to understand that Carnival is not a two weeks thing, a four weeks thing. Carnival is year-round and the Assembly is pumping money into this product. So, we must be able to deliver."

Sandiford also urged Carnival administrators to embrace technology when carrying out their duties.

"We have to look at the future of Carnival. We have to make sure and have bands registered online and get away with this set of paper pushing.

"Judges also must be computer literate because that is where we will be going in 2021."


"Remove Carnival comedians"

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