Some Carnival stakeholders believe the National Carnival Commission (NCC) should have organised virtual events, just as other bodies and organisations are doing.
In an interview with Newsday on December 30, NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said the commission is not going to host virtual events. Instead it is compiling at least 100 years of existing Carnival material.
He said in the interview, “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.”
George Singh, Southex CEO and Chutney Soca Monarch (CSM) promoter, said there were some events the commission could have hosted virtually, like the Dimanche Gras show or Calypso Monarch contest.
While he agreed with the commission’s plan to take a historical look at Carnival, he felt these events could have still happened.
Singh’s CSM will take place virtually in 2021.
“There are some events I would say use the archive material, but there are some events that I think they definitely can do virtually. Dimanche Gras is one of them...I am sure they can put on a Dimanche Gras and have a fantastic show, either in NAPA or some forum.”
Singh said he understood some events like the Parade of the Bands and Panorama could not be held virtually, and agreed that is where the archival material could then be used.
Public relations specialist at PearTree Consulting Ltd Nyssa Pierre also thinks the NCC should have hosted virtual events .
“I do agree with the showing of archival footage. I think it is phenomenally important not just for people in TT to have a grasp on our own Carnival history but for other people to see it as well.
“That being said, the way for other people to have access to archival footage amongst other elements of Carnival, in this time, is virtually.”
Pierre said she did not understand the decision not to host a virtual event as well as showcasing "amazing" archival footage.
Secondly, Pierre said the commission is the Government body charged with spearheading Carnival, and for it to step back from hosting and promoting TT’s Carnival, although in an altered format, does not make sense.
“Who else is going to take the bull by the horns and do it in the interest of the people, if that is your mandate?”
This is the time people live in and everyone has been forced to adapt, pivot and innovate in different ways, she said.
She said as a PR professional, a Carnival baby and a Trinidadian, it “does raise some eyebrows and concern that the body that was supposed to highlight and showcase and take care of our most important cultural export – they are not in the space of innovation.”
Perrier pointed out that other countries have hosted virtual Carnivals and succeeded. Montserrat recently hosted a virtual soca monarch competition, she said.
“The evidence is there, the success story is there.”
She added that it was important for NCC to host virtual events because the commission’s mandate was to take the country’s Carnival and culture forward, and the NCC was being paid by the State to do that.
Pierre said while private promoters should do their own thing, there was room for both the public and private. She said Carnival existed over the last few years with a happy, sometimes discordant marriage, between the two, and both were equally important to culture and Carnival.
“To claim that we are the Carnival capital of the world and to not have a virtual presence, or any presence, in a year that everybody expects something, whatever that thing is to happen...Yes, absolutely we should have this presence.”
She said many proposals had been written to find a happy medium to host a virtual Carnival.
Soca artiste Swappi said virtual events should be hosted, because people need to be entertained and would be looking forward to that in some way.
“This is our culture. This is what we grow up watching. The whole atmosphere of Carnival, the nostalgia of Carnival.”
He believes virtual events will enhance the culture moving forward.
“The world has changed and we have to change with the timing and everything that is happening around the world.
“This is one of the steps to show this is the new way forward,” he said.