Chief Sec: Tobago Carnival a worthwhile investment

Soca artiste Shurwayne Winchester performs for the crowd at the lauch of the 2020 Tobago Carnival launch in Scarborough, on January 17, 2020. - DAVID REID
Soca artiste Shurwayne Winchester performs for the crowd at the lauch of the 2020 Tobago Carnival launch in Scarborough, on January 17, 2020. - DAVID REID

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis says that there is a recommendation to have a virtual Carnival.

In responding to a question from members of the media at last Wednesday’s post Executive Council news conference, Dennis said he is of the belief that “the assembly has to continue to engage in some form of investments in our creatives.”

Dennis said there was never an intent to have Tobago's usual type of Carnival as covid19 would not allow it.

"Notwithstanding that, the creative sector is a critical part of our Tobago economy, and I would say the national economy as well, and it would even have to play a greater role in this new normal environment.

"Yes, we talk a lot and we push a lot of tourism and agriculture and these sought of things but creativity; our creative juices, our talents, our musicians, our dancers, our designers, our film producers and these kinds of individuals must begin to find their place."

He said such talents should receive the support of the assembly and the government "like never before."

Speaking with Newsday recently, Tobago Festivals Commission CEO John Arnold said the island will not host any full-scale Carnival events during the usual Carnival period, adding that $2 million had already been approved to cover five areas – calypso, pan, mas, new Tobago Soca and a mud mas documentary later on in March or early April.

Dennis acknowledged the sum noting that the assembly would have to lend support.

“A proposal for $2 million to support our creatives; the money is not going into space. The money is going to our pan men, our calypsonians, our designers, our creatives on the island.

"So, I think an opportunity to stimulate that sector and to ensure that, at the same time, those persons who have been greatly impacted, we have to be in a position to support those persons. So, it would be a part of our plans going forward to stimulate.”

Dennis said the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) had invested a lot more than $2 million on rental assistance, food cards and other support since the covid19 pandemic had begun.

"Even businesses were supported during this period to the tune of millions of dollars to ensure they keep going.”

He said he felt strongly that there were opportunities to engage audiences, under the new-normal circumstances, utilising virtual means and social distancing where necessary to ensure that creativity and, by extension, festivals can continue in Tobago.

“That would mean recording certain elements of our culture – the pan, the mas and those sorts of things – and packaging it into something of good and significant quality that would allow us to showcase it to the rest of the country and the world.

"And, at the same time, it would allow us to keep Tobago and our creativity, our abilities, our talents and really keep what this destination means to the people of the world.

"Keep that alive in the minds of our visitors and potential visitors in the future.”

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"Chief Sec: Tobago Carnival a worthwhile investment"

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