Saturday, February 24, 2018

Promising forward steps toward Carnival 2013


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As newly appointed leading lady of the festival, National Carnival Commission chairman Allison Demas appears to have taken a promising first step by seeking to harvest the experience and the wisdom residing among interest groups and knowledgeable others. She has thus raised hope that the fruit of such consultations could be applied to successful production of Carnival 2013, just under six weeks away.

Inside the Grand Stand VIP Lounge last week, Ms Demas gathered about 20 stakeholders to brainstorm possibilities for facilitating a smoother-flowing Parade of the Bands. Past initiatives have met more failure than success in removing the congestion that annually frustrates masses of participants and disappoints spectators at the climactic final act of Carnival in Port of Spain.

 Still, it is necessary to keep devising and addressing solutions to the Carnival traffic management through earlier and more thorough planning. Leaders and organisers of the big bands must also be brought onside to contribute to and co-operate with whatever new arrangements are implemented.

By starting this conversation early after her appointment, Ms Demas has signalled a welcome willingness to lead a collaborative process in a milieu often given to own-way departures. Predictably, the session produced an earful for the NCC authorities to weigh and be guided by over the short weeks to Carnival.

The mandate of the NCC extends beyond the Parade of the Bands to include the nationwide programme of build-up activities in calypso, mas and pan. Already, decisions have been reported affecting the staging of Panorama, Dimanche Gras, and the Kings and Queens of the Bands.

It being Carnival, involving irrepressible spirits and, now, large financial inputs and expectations of returns, the sailing is never entirely smooth. Some push-back against innovations and organisational improvements can always be expected, even from some elements that had earlier signalled approval.

Fortunately, Ms Demas' background in the copyright business must have gained her familiarity with Carnival people in her new domain. At the session, she talked like someone ready to raise their game by, for example, adopting a "more scientific approach" to Carnival road management.

In a response to that session veteran Rosalind Gabriel, voiced thanks on behalf of fellow bandleaders, a normally guarded and even cynical bunch. Ms Gabriel summed up optimistic sentiments about prospects for the engagement with the NCC: "I can't see anything coming out of it but good." So far, so good.

 Ms Demas appears to have put her best foot forward, with public support from at least some stakeholders. Equal, non-interfering, support should be expected from the relevant ministry. Thus T&T could look forward, with measured hope, to the delivery of a productive Carnival, equally enjoyable to those taking part and to those showing up or tuning in as spectators.