Pan’s strong comeback

Republic Bank Exodus, playing Tourist Leggo, makes merry at the Panorama semi-finals on Sunday at the Queen's Park Savannah. Photo by Andrea De Silva
Republic Bank Exodus, playing Tourist Leggo, makes merry at the Panorama semi-finals on Sunday at the Queen's Park Savannah. Photo by Andrea De Silva

IF YOU WANT proof that steelpan is the lifeblood of our Carnival, look no further than Sunday’s triumphant return of the Panorama competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

The event, coupled with the return of the North Stand, was a reminder that some things in Carnival are best left unchanged. Indeed, while the festival is about creativity and innovation, it is also about tradition.

The healthy ticket receipts noted by Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore – she estimated sales of over 5,000 for the North Stand alone, which had been closed in 2018 as a cost-cutting measure – suggests a deep yearning on the part of the population for this marquee event, especially after the vacuum created in recent years by the pandemic.

The relatively smooth organisation, as well as a clear staggering of activity on the Greens to minimise anything that might detract from the pan, also spoke to a degree of managerial competence.

All of it is in stark contrast to other big Carnival events that have in recent years suffered from poor attendance as well as the cancellation of the International Soca Monarch competition.

Perhaps the reason why pan is so eternally popular is because of the strong community engagement it involves.

More than any other competition, Panorama nurtures and protects young participants.

“It’s like drums for peace,” Ms Ramsey-Moore said on Sunday.

The decision taken by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts to pay each player $500 is, in this context, a most welcome one. And if possible efforts should be made to deepen the engagement of pan sides within communities and to raise this payment.

Also welcomed are efforts by figures such as soca singer Machel Montano who waved the flag for Siparia Deltones – performing The Meeting Place, his song with the late South African icon Hugh Masekela – and called for efforts to be made to take our culture forward and to continue to pass it to a new generation.

With the large numbers of young people participating in the competition, this is one art form that appears to be in good hands moving forward.

“This energy will continue,” Ms Ramsey-Moore promised. “We continue into April with the return of Pan in the 21st Century.”

Our steelpan has always been one of our greatest exports, but in recent times it has received increased international exposure.

In an era in which everything is online, last year’s celebration of pan through a Google doodle illustrated by Nicholas Huggins, carried the instrument all over the world.

The energy of Sunday’s event is also a reminder of the need to capitalise on this momentum.

Pan Trinbago itself must play a key role in this regard and must, as it safeguards the national instrument, also ensure that its own affairs are kept transparent and in good order moving forward.


"Pan’s strong comeback"

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