ARTS and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas yesterday confirmed a 20 per cent cut in the budget allocation for his Ministry which will affect funding for all cultural events, including Carnival 2013.
Speaking to reporters following the launch of the Arouca Power Fest, a parang festival, at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain, Douglas said it was a "heads up" to all cultural stakeholders that "money is not flowing like water".
In response, stakeholders said a cut in culture meant a cut in Trinidad and Tobago's tourism drive and if the Government was serious about revenue generation outside oil and gas, culture ought to be given better funding.
"Everybody including the National Carnival Commission (NCC), which is the flagship of our Ministry in terms of Carnival and the handling Carnival, has received a significant cut of almost 20 per cent. So what you can see is a subsequent cut in all the various allocations for various functions and events around the country," said Douglas.
The Minister continued: "All artistes calling for two million (dollars), but we are not particularly of the view of just giving away prize money for giving away prize money sake, because money should assist in the development of the art form.
"We have to get creative to do the best with what we have because everybody will experience a reduction in the allocation they receive, but I am sure that this will not stop us from having a good time in Trinidad and Tobago."
However, Douglas offered a solution to the shortfall by urging artistes and their relevant organisations to register with the Arts and Multiculturalism Ministry so that those on their database would have the opportunity to solicit corporate funding.
As a reward, "corporate Trinidad and Tobago gets a 150 per cent tax incentive break so that is to encourage the support from corporate Trinidad and Tobago to fund the arts," said Douglas.
The Ministry's reduced allocation upset Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, who said he heard about cuts to the Ministry's budget.
"We are always talking about changing our revenue sources and moving away from oil and gas and so I thought that with that in mind they would have channelled financial resources into pan and have events outside the Carnival season," said Diaz. "I mean, countries like China and Brazil have a high level of international travel among its population...we could have targeted those countries to encourage their tourists here."
Diaz added: "The Government should think seriously about using pan to help curb crime and they need the help in the panyards and pan programmes because if we get more young people involved in that it will help curb crime because that's what other countries doing."