National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters wants around $150 million for Carnival 2023 in the hopes of making it “the mother of all Carnivals.”
Speaking to Newsday on Wednesday, he said, “We sent in a budget and we’re hoping to get that so we can have a proper Carnival so we can have the mother of all Carnivals like we promised.”
At the time he could not recall the exact figure requested in the national budget, which will be read on Monday by the Finance Minister, but it was around $150 million.
Also on Wednesday, the NCC announced in a press release that the launch of Carnival 2023 had been rescheduled from September 24, as that date clashed with the national awards ceremony, to November 5 at the Queen’s Park Savannah at 4 pm.
Peters said, “Since the launch’s inception, we have tried to stay true to our annual ritual to stage it as close to Republic Day as possible.
“However, we could not be unmindful of the present climate of Independence celebrations, which include phenomenal events being hosted at our sister organisations, Queen’s Hall theatre and NAPA, that weekend.”
He said the NCC aimed to maximise public participation at the launch, “especially as we have added new features to this year’s event, including a Carnival village, a panyard experience, and some of the best local arts and crafts and cuisine experiences.
“We understood that the 60th anniversary celebrations are also a significant milestone that deserves the utmost public focus and attention, from which we choose not to detract."
Events on September 24 include the national awards at the National Academy for the Performing Arts; Together, Queen's Hall Gala Fete at Queen's Hall grounds; and Chantuelle Vibz – A Musical Tribute to Andre Tanker at the Central Bank Auditorium.
In a phone interview with Newsday, Peters said Tobago was “doing its own thing” in 2023, but the NCC would support it in any way it could if Tobago wanted the support.
This year, Tobago is having its own carnival from October 28-30, including J’Ouvert and a parade of the bands. There have also been several associated events in the run-up to Tobago carnival, including fetes and band launches.
“Ideally I would like to see Tobago carnival be a separate entity that is well put in place to capitalise on the foreign exchange the country so badly needs.”
Peters said the annual Carnival was great, but it was “uncomfortable” with congestion and “no room for expansion” while Tobago had a great opportunity to produce a carnival like no other.
“They could plan in a way to make it more comfortable and make it a Trinidad-like carnival with all Tobago flavour.”
He said he would like to promote Tobago’scarnival “in a big way” all over the world, but it could not be produced in half measures. It had to be big.
“Carnival to us in TT is jump up and wine. We are the artisans, and that’s what we do. But in terms of the results of it, the result is economics. That’s why we have to strive for perfection, to make our product the best product that we have.
“And more than that, we have to continue to show the world how good we are so we could have expansion. The more Trinidad-like carnivals around the world, the more beneficial to TT financially.”