People can look forward to a slew of virtual Carnival-related events come 2021. But the body that officially oversees Carnival, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), is not organising any such events.
NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters confirmed this to Newsday.
In a phone interview he said, “We are not planning any virtual events the way that the private promoters or whoever are planning.”
He added that since the Government announced there would be no Carnival 2021, the organisation has not been planning any Carnival activity per se.
The NCC, however, plans to compile at least 100 years of extant Carnival material.
“What we are going to be doing is compiling a lot of what we have. We are working on it right now. So we will have a kind of antecedental look at what Carnival in TT is all about, historical as it is.”
Gypsy said TT can’t have a virtual Carnival, as that was an oxymoron.
But hosting virtual events gave private organisers and pomoters a chance to be completely independent, he said.
“Because these things they are putting on, they would be putting it on on their own because they would be getting no money from the NCC since we have no money for such events.”
He said Carnival, to the NCC and the Government, was much more than a party and a fete, but rather a foreign-exchange earner and a way of providing jobs.
“If we are having something virtual, it is not doing anything for anybody other than the people who are putting it on.
“So Carnival to the NCC is much more than it is to private entities who just are putting on an event and calling it virtual and doing whatever to make money for themselves.”
He added that the NCC got no government allocation except for recurrent expenditure, to the tune of about $32 million.
He said entities like Pan Trinbago, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCAB) and Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) were independent bodies which received a subvention from the Government. If they wished to do something they could find ways to do so, he said.
“We are not preventing anybody from doing whatever they want to do....as long as it is within the guidelines of the pronouncement of the Government...the covid19 guidelines set by the Government.”
Asked about the possibility of a Carnival in July/August, Peters said there is no Carnival and he could not understand how hard that was for people to understand.
“People should condition their minds that there will be no Carnival in 2021. We are going to be looking at 2022...we are hoping that these conditions get better and if they do, we are going to be making all preparations and efforts to have one of the best Carnivals we have seen in years and years and years.”
Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore said pan was born out of struggle, when asked how the organisation will cope with the lack of subvention.
“It is nothing new to us. We are a resilient people and we will find ways and means to come through these difficult times. The movement understands that. The membership understands that. We have some plans that we have put together.”
She said Pan Trinbago will be holding three major virtual events.
Ramsey-Moore said the NCC was providing some administrative support and Pan Trinbago was extremely grateful for that support. Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell got high praise from her: she said her organisation was extremely satisfied so far with the level of support from the ministry. She said it has had conversations with Mitchell and he “is very open to discussion.”
She added that while the ministry is unable to provide financial support, it has been assisting in helping Pan Trinbago reach out to the private sector, and with a strategy on the way forward. This has been a major support, she said.
Ramsey-Moore said the organisation has sent in its proposals for its virtual events and was sure there will be some support for cultural groups.
“It may not be what is required, but teamwork is what is required. Support does not always come financially. There are other ways the ministry can provide that kind of support for us.”
She added that the proposals have been sent to corporate bodies and was sure they would provide the usual support. She expects that by the middle of January the organisation will hear something from the corporate sector.
TUCO is already looking for corporate support and sponsorship, said its president, Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba.
The organisation plans to host virtual events in the first quarter of 2021. He said its membership must make music for those who wanted to hear the music and its responsibility was to find ways to facilitate this.
Asked how TUCO plans to fund itself for the rest of the year, he said it would have to see how that works out and it was simply looking, for now, at the first quarter.
The TTCBA will find a way to do something, even though there is no budget, president Rosalind Gabriel told Newsday.
“As the chairman has reported, the budget has been drastically cut to the NCC, and the interest groups have been left out completely. We have to look for clever ways to try and help ourselves.”
She said there was no plan written down, but right after the New Year the TTCBA board will meet to discuss a plan.
“We won’t allow the year to pass without doing something for ourselves or in conjunction with other Carnival stakeholders,” she said.