Carnival conundrum

GI (Imran Aleem Beharry) performs at the recording of the Chutney Soca Monarch finals at SAPA, San Fernando which aired virtually on February 13, 2021.  - File photo/Lincoln Holder
GI (Imran Aleem Beharry) performs at the recording of the Chutney Soca Monarch finals at SAPA, San Fernando which aired virtually on February 13, 2021. - File photo/Lincoln Holder

For most Carnival stakeholders, the response to the government's Carnival “showcase” proposal has ranged between tepid and heated, with party promoters particularly incensed about limitations that rule out the kind of public gatherings necessary for successful fetes and large-scale events.

Even among those who can produce an event with a limited audience and streaming-revenue possibilities, there was a cautious response as the design of such events and earning potential remains unclear.

Dean Ackin of the Tribe organisation has acknowledged the reality of events at this stage in 2022, noting that his team was in fact working towards Carnival 2023 and hoping for a green light from the Government.

It's tempting to park this problem in the Government's driveway, but for anyone paying attention to the alarmingly escalating numbers for covid19 infection and mortality, it was clear that any kind of Carnival in 2022 would be different.

It's also worth noting that this year's plan was co-authored by the key Carnival stakeholders in TUCO, Pan Trinbago and the TTCBA, representing calypsonians, steelbands and bandleaders respectively.

This august body of Carnival representatives, in tandem with the collective resources of the Ministry of Culture, sought to address the inevitable conflict between a deeply social event and rising number of covid19 cases resulting in hospitalisation and death.

But there should have been plans for a number of scenarios, devised months ago and articulated then so that stakeholders could in turn plan accordingly.

This was not a year for festival-eve planning in the hope that Carnival, would again sort itself out.

Carnival 2022 “for which the NCC and its stakeholder bodies had a full year's worth of restriction realities to instruct them” should have been on their agenda at least since August 2021, with plans to present the talent of this country in circumstances ranging from full lockdown to a covid-free return to normality.

TT's Carnival is not the only major cultural festival to be either constrained or completely cancelled because of covid19 restrictions. Billboard lists more than 80 tours, major appearances and festivals cancelled across the US in 2021, affecting artists from Aerosmith to Garth Brooks.

Two weeks ago, three major music festivals were cancelled or postponed in Australia, which is battling an omicron wave despite 90 per cent double vaccination; that move ended thousands of entertainment-sector jobs.

Digicel announced that it is using its app platforms D'Music and Go Loud to produce concerts and distribute music for the season, but more inventive opportunities should have been ready to support Carnival workers and creators, who are facing their second year of diminished income.

The opportunity to create showcase events is heartening, but a strategy for turning that limited window of opportunity into something of value isn't the remit of a state bureaucracy.

Any successful adaptation of Carnival can only come from the inventiveness that has underwritten all the triumphs of Carnival since its inception.


"Carnival conundrum"

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