President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Brother Resistance says, "No government(s) ever understood the personal investment made by the calypsonians to be a part of Carnival. I am talking about all entertainers when I refer to calypsonians. They invest $14 million to bring music and prepare for Carnival. In this country we just do it. Nobody tells us to make music. And $14 million is a conservative figure, the government has not started to understand that yet, they give TUCO $7.8 million to run all competition, tents and pay staff but we spend twice that amount to make music for the festival."
Brother Resistance was addressing an audience of staff and students of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) as well as members of the public at Theatre 1, UTT Campus at NAPA, Port of Spain, on Sunday evening.
Put on by the students of the Master of Arts in Carnival Studies, the theme was "An Assessment of Carnival 2012"; to find out how did the standards set in music, behaviour and administrative practices compare with those of a by-gone era.
Brother Resistance's presentation was on "Calypso, Soca and Soca Chutney" and he divided it into two segments. The first part, he said, was subjective; my opinion, "what I like and you don't have to agree with me". The second part, he said, was Scientific. The remarks on the spending came under part 2 (scientific).
He continued, "And they give you the money in tranches; if we get it in July/August we might be able to make it work, find ways to make the money make money. No, we have to wait for the budget in October, then for the yellow paper in November. By the time we get some funding it is December, after spending $14 million. That is the response from the State."
Resistance said there has been improvement in some of the competitions like the after-party at Calypso Fiesta, the Classic Showcase in the International Soca Monarch and the arrival of the Chutney Soca Final in Port of Spain.
But he questioned the disparity in sponsorship.
"They only count heads so the bulk will go to soca and party music, which I understand. Soca Monarch gets about 20 sponsors, then there is B Square, another week of party music, when you take people from their productive time to go to Woodford Square. Digicel also has their own now, but the music of Carnival is not only party.
"What distresses me is when State-owned companies are involved. What sponsorship did the NCC get? Carnival is the people's own; everybody must get involved, all of us have a responsibility."
Referring to the near boycott of the Dimanche Gras this year by calypsonians, Resistance said, "There is no way a calypsonian should have to argue for more prize money, we should be ashamed. That is the most prestigious title in Carnival. It started in 1939. They say calypso is dying and we can't run the tents. That is a joke. (In the past) there were three calypso tents.
"Now TUCO is running six tents and there are five others. The most exciting thing is the advent of community tents. There are about six of them throughout Trinidad and Tobago. No money has not been shared, no colour jersey has not been given out for that. It is people who are coming together and saying let's do something and using their money. The responsibility is on the State to help the calypso tent culture, help in marketing and business."
Resistance then said sarcastically, "Airplay was excellent. The commentary style was great, not so? The lack of airplay is a significant thing. There is overkill on the radio, they only playing the same artistes over and over, just a handful. That is reducing the entertainment value and it is bad for Carnival. There are so much more artistes out there."
"We really don't know the power of calypso. In 1912 the Lovey String Band recorded the first calypso—'Mango'. It is 100 years since that. Calypso was recorded before jazz, rock and roll and R&B. This year we are celebrating 50 years of Independence, but out of 33 radio stations only one is playing the music of this land. We have to take this out of the campus and move it forward to the people to make something of it. It is time for 50 per cent airplay," ended Resistance.
Before Resistance, Annette Fitzpatrick spoke on "Economics of Carnival". She said although the government spent $96.5 million on Carnival, there is over $1 billion in revenue generated during the Carnival period. The money spent is a mere ten per cent of revenue and the interest groups should get an increase in allocations albeit after very good accounting practices.