Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Consultation needed to move mas forward


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Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas has made a false start by launching himself as a Carnival policy-maker, doing so at the notably inappropriate occasion of the installation of a new chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

It is the NCC, now under the chairmanship of Allison Demas, which is the body with statutory authority for running the Carnival. But before the board could come together under its new presiding officer, Dr Douglas has been loudly declaring his favoured option for the Dimanche Gras extravaganza: that it should exclude the Calypso Monarch finals.

After previous culture minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters' failed efforts to make policy of his personal preferences for a "People's Band"; for banning costume imports; and for reducing Panorama stipends, his successor's early interest in micromanaging Carnival is seriously disappointing.

Neither Mr Peters nor Dr Douglas appears particularly qualified by knowledge or experience to play more than facilitating roles in the management and development of Carnival.

It is thus encouraging to observe that Ms Demas, the new NCC chairman, with a background in working with Carnival and other artistes, has the right idea. She is promisingly offering to promote discussion and consultationórather than running with hobbyhorses that change colour with each change of minister.

While Dr Douglas made public his hopes for a new format for Dimanche Gras, Ms Demas said she intends to make the Carnival Sunday night attraction more marketable, but not before consultations are held with all the stakeholders.

"I really want to focus on the marketing and promotion of Carnival and therefore to me Dimanche Gras really has to be the flagship event which would attract sponsorship," she said following her appointment on Monday.

And with co-operation and consent amongst the calypsonians, bandleaders and all those who have an input in Dimanche Gras, they can come to an agreement on the best way to promote this marquee show which combines all that is great about Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

Some may say that the steelband has to play a part in this "flagship event", but that can all be worked out.

The point is that consensus is needed to move the mas forward, rather than having one person's vision stuffed down the throats of all those who hold the annual festival near and dear to their hearts.

Change cannot be forced upon T&T Carnival. Instead, everyone has to agree that improvements have to be made to the whole format to make it more attractive to those who take part and those looking on in the North and Grand Stands at the Queen's Park Savannah and on television sets and computer monitors around the world.

All the components are there for it to really live up to the boast of being "The Greatest Show on Earth" and the NCC needs to take on board the best advice to ensure that remains so long into the future.