PLANS FOR CARNIVAL: NCC chairman Allison Demas, right, with Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ganga Singh and Legal Affairs Minister, Prakash Ramadar. —Photos: Gary Cardinez

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Demas Ready For The Mas

By Gary Cardinez

Strength, passion, determination and courage are the attributes that will help newly-installed National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman, Allison Demas achieve the goals she has planned for Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.

Along with the Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas and in the presence of other ministers, Demas launched Carnival 2013 at the Hotel at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain last Wednesday.

In her speech Demas said she has the honour to be the first woman to chair the NCC since its establishment 21 years ago and thanked Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the confidence she has placed in her.

After announcing several changes in the structure of Carnival week where the Calypso Monarch will be decided on Thursday, Carnival King and Queen on Friday and two days of Panorama semifinals; Demas is expecting feedback from some people.

But she says she is accustomed to this kind of environment having been at the helm of the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT).

Demas says, "The NCC's mandate is to make Carnival a viable national, cultural and commercial enterprise and to provide the necessary managerial and organisational infrastructure for the effective presentation and marketing of the cultural products of Carnival.

"Towards achieving these goals Carnival 2013 will herald the beginning of the transformation of T&T's Carnival. Several of the changes were already made when I took office one month ago. The NCBA and TUCO took their shows out of the Dimanche Gras.

"Change is inevitable and we have to embrace this change if we want to take Trinidad Carnival to the next level. Now it's up to the NCC to make Dimanche Gras a flagship event that will attract sponsorship and satisfy the people.

"That's why we have an open tender for the production of that show. We have people capable of producing the kind of show I am talking about."

In her personal view Demas will like to see all aspects of Trinidad culture in the Dimanche Gras not just the pan, calypso and mas.

She says, "I would like to see gospelypso, jazz, tassa all the elements that are T&T culture package in a three-hour show. We are a people who like to fete, there must also be an element of fete; patrons must not sit down for the duration of the show."

Demas says her job at the NCC is to make sure there is effective management, strengthen the resources and cut wastage.

She went on, "I have $81m to run Carnival and I now have to look for sponsorship both corporate and public to make things happen. The NCC has to change its view on Carnival. This is not just about two months before the parade of bands.

"Carnival is big business and we have to plan a year in advance less we are caught wanting. Not much can be done to effect change in 2013 but come 2014 Carnival will be taking off on a new level."

Demas says she knows people will be asking what she knows about Carnival but she has been involved in Carnival for many years.

She said, "I was one of the people who advised the former NCBA chairman Richard Affong, I have been an advocate for copyright for works of mas, I have been at the helm of Cott working with the interest groups for years. I am not a Jenny come lately."

In her one month in office Demas has had several meetings with the Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, important officials in the ministry (it being the line ministry) and feels these meetings are important.

"I have had meetings with the executive of the newly formed Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Band Association and NCDF, meetings with the executive of the interest groups, meeting with the Parade of the Bands committee and several board meetings.

"People tell me my style is different, I think it is important to consult and they say this has not been so. I feel that is natural and obvious."

Demas feels the minister has a great vision for Carnival and he is convinced that culture in Trinidad and Tobago is bigger that oil and gas.

"I think the NCC must conduct a socio-economic analysis of Carnival to find out the true potential of revenue. The amount of jobs created, hotel rooms sold, taxi and airline passengers everything and everyone involved in Carnival. We also need to quantify what we export.

"We must have this data at our fingertips for when the minister goes to his Cabinet to make his case it will help him, this is critical.

"I think five years ago there was talk about Carnival bringing in $800m but we need to be update with the information, and the CSO has the data."

The forever smiling Demas says she will enjoy her tenure as chair of the NCC and nothing will deter her as she believes in Carnival and has the power of her conviction and a driving passion to succeed.

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Counting Down To

T&T Carnival 2014

Mar, 3 2014