IF by some miracle, there is a Carnival 2022, one band has already decided it will not be there.
The popular medium band and Band of the Year winner K2K Alliance and Partners posted on its Facebook page on May 3 that it would not be on the road come 2022, but urged its followers and masqueraders to stay together in spirit and love.In a more elaborate response to Newsday, Karen and Kathy Norman, the bandleaders and designers of K2K, said three key considerations prompted their decision, even if the government approves the festival. Those considerations were health concerns, K2K's business model and personal factors, they said in e-mailed responses. "The pandemic has created a dramatically different environment from two years ago. Although the vaccine is being administered and there is heightened eagerness for things to return to normal, the pandemic is a very real global issue, one which management takes very seriously.
"On a personal level, we have experienced loss due to covid19. As such, management understands first-hand, the impact of the pandemic from both a business standpoint and a personal level. We believe that management has a responsibility to our K2K family, as well as the global community," the Normans said. The Normans also asked themselves several questions in coming to their decision, among them:
"What measures does TT have in place currently to ensure that locals are protected, and will there be enough measures in place, to ensure that locals are additionally protected from the international influx at Carnival?"What measures are in place to protect internationals?"Would non-vaccinated nationals and non-vaccinated internationals be allowed to enter TT during the Carnival festivities?
"And are there mechanisms in place to ensure that that vaccination information when/if presented at TT’s borders is legitimate and accurate?" They said while the physical festival is a major form of tourism and generates additional revenue for companies and individuals, it should not supersede the value of human capital. The Normans added that while the band is eager to return to the road, it does not want to do so without the right mechanisms in place to protect people. The band said it is now looking forward to 2023 and beyond. The pandemic is a health crisis with severe economic ramifications for the world and the Carnival landscape is not exempt from it, the Normans said. It also changed consumer behaviour and commercial activity and hence K2K's business model would continue to evolve as the global economy rebounds and, in some instances, dips, they said. The Normans said they will be clinical in assessing the business and remained committed to taking the strategic decisions needed to best serve their clients. For the sisters, Carnival is an evolution and change is inevitable. "While we cannot speak to the future, what the pandemic has proven is that human beings are resilient – we are quick thinkers; we are strong in body and will. "If the global atmosphere has changed then the Carnival landscape will inevitably change to meet demand and to match consumer appetite.
"They said this does not mean Carnival will necessarily disappear, but they believe Trinidadians are creative enough, and resilient enough, to ensure the export of its culture can weather the storm."Carnival, 'the festival,' is much more than costuming. It includes the soca artistes, the vendors, and the pan...Many creatives have offered and continue to offer virtual experiences. This speaks, not to the determination of our people, but to digital opportunities."The Normans said one of the key discussions going forward should be around investing in technology and what virtual Carnival programmes TT can create to keep the local and international markets engaged and intrigued. Newsday also asked other bandleaders if this was something they were considering. For large band The Lost Tribe's bandleader Valmiki Maharaj, the band is operating with a "safety first" mentality. "Life and limb before party and fete," he said. Maharaj said it was too early to forecast anything and that it was communicating with the Government. "We kind of agreed as things progress, whether it be vaccination or the pandemic, we would have to see what is or is not possible for next year."He said the band scenario-planned last year and has started doing that again for next year. He said no one had enough information to say whether there would or would not be a physical Carnival.
"But we have a responsibility to the people and to the culture so even if there isn't a Carnival parade, there will always still be a Carnival because it is in us," he said. Maharaj said it was not a question of whether the band would participate, but how. "It is either, in one way, you participate on the road. If it looking shaky, the question then might be, how do we participate? Do we delve into projects like we did for
Lavway. Lavway was film done by the band which explored Carnival beyond the street parade. This was also done because Carnival 2021 was cancelled because of the covid19 pandemic. "Do we do more Instagram lives?"
"We need to make sure our product, our culture and our Carnival has solid ground to stand on." Bandleader of large band Ronnie and Caro Ronnie McIntosh did not want to talk about whether or not he will have a band for Carnival 2022, but about the handling of the pandemic.Instead McIntosh said in a phone interview, "It is so sad that we were at zero cases and zero deaths with a closed border and now we have to be punished for an administration's lack of performance. "Why are we here now?" he asked.He said TT should have shut down over Easter and would have been fine now. "You're supposed to shut down for the high season."McIntosh said the entertainment and cultural industry has been greatly affected and damaged and was given little to no attention. He added that more could have been done for Carnival, virtually.
He said TT should have never been in the position it is today. "If our borders are closed and we were on zero cases for quite a while, why are we here now? So it is now the citizens are paying, dearly for the lack of performance from an administration. It is sad," he said.