Some Carnival stakeholders hold mixed views about the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) call for the Government to reconsider its cancellation of Carnival 2021.
The association made the call in a release on Monday.
The TT Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) supports the Government’s decision and said safety is the priority in a release to Newsday.
In the release, TTCBA president Rosalind Gabriel said, as the association's head and as a commissioner on the board of the National Carnival Commission (NCC), she reiterated the decision made by the Prime Minister to cancel Carnival 2021.
The release added, “Public health and safety are of the utmost importance as the nation and our people deal with the challenges presented by covid19.”
The TTCBA said it believes that the hard work, preventative measures and progress achieved since the TT’s first cases of covid19 in March would be undone if any organisation or group tried to break the Government’s directives.
“We know that it is a difficult time for all – not just the mas community and its members, but for the nation and its businesses as a whole. And, as much as we can, we sympathise with all those adversely affected, as well as understand the zeal with which alternatives are being created and suggested.”
The association said safety was its first priority and urged the wider community to bear that in mind and respect and adhere to the official covid19 protocols which “too explore ways to keep our Carnival vibrant in a time of covid19.”
The TTCBA said it would continue to explore viable virtual options in keeping with the Ministry of Health’s and the police directives.
But the Artists’ Coalition of TT (ACTT) said it agrees with DOMA president Gregory Aboud that TT is abdicating its Carnival throne meekly.
ACTT’s president Rubadiri Victor said, "There should be a symbolic physical Carnival display in the city with covid19 restrictions observed, as well as a strong virtual Carnival programme alongside the dressing up and jewelling of the capital city Port of Spain.
“We must do these things to retain our Carnival throne and declare our national brand as a hemispheric capital of culture and a global travel destination post-pandemic.”
In a release, Victor said he was one of the early advocates of a virtual Carnival.
The release said he met with the NCC board two days after NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters declared there would be no virtual Carnival and it would not take part.
“For a while it seemed that the NCC had been convinced – movements were being made. However, the effort collapsed internally and the NCC reverted to their chairman’s position. Efforts by Victor to bring together other Carnival stakeholders also met with fracture because of the lack of a powerful position by the State.”
Victor said the virtual Carnival is not meant to be a Carnival 2021 placeholder, nor is it simply “a promotional event to score profits for a handful of promoters.”
He said the virtual Carnival could fast-track TT’s digital economy.
"With no physical Carnival we will lose 55,000 visitors – but we can gain 55 million pairs of eyes?
"We will never get a captive audience like this again. The virtual Carnival is indispensable to any local business that has regional and international ambitions. There are a lot of good individual virtual initiatives going on. Iwer, Kes, Bunji, Sekon Sta, Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO), fete promoters, and others…
Victor ended by calling for all stakeholders to "come together with us to make a brilliant singular product."