Saturday, February 17, 2018

Douglas: Govt to give $27m more for shows

Bigger prizes for Kings, Queens


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Cabinet yesterday approved a further $27 million for this year's national Carnival shows, bringing the Carnival 2013 budget to $156 million.

Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas made the announcement at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday.

"For the prize money, we've allocated a $1.6 million increase to whatever existed before for King and Queen of Carnival. We've allocated $2.2 million for the Band of the Year, and that is additional," Douglas said.

Douglas said the prize money for the Soca Monarch or Groovy Soca Monarch was not yet finalised.

"We have not finalised what the prize money will be this year. I have had a couple of meetings with the organisers; I know the organisers have been meeting with a number of other ministries, and one of my roles is to meet with all the ministries and co-ordinate the involvement of the State in these activities," he said.

When asked whether those figures would continue into next year's Carnival competitions. Douglas said he was working "one year at a time".

Douglas said the new plan for Dimanche Gras removes the competitive element from the cultural Dimanche Gras show.

"The intention here is to put on a tight show that has a marketable value that has a high level of production quality and is exportable," he said.

Douglas said previous shows were "too long" and resulted in diminished audience and performers.

"The whole system has been disaggregated. There is still the competition in each area. There is still the competition with the kings and queens; the calypso competition exists and the steelband competition exists, they just exist on different nights. They are not all put into one show that goes on forever," he said.

Douglas said he understood the changed format challenged the kings and queens and triggered talk of a boycott but said he believed everyone was on board.

"I am not aware of any boycotting. I am sure there is some level of discomfort, but there is no boycotting," he said.

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) head Gerard Weekes yesterday confirmed the kings and queens will be participating in the shows, even on the contentious Big Friday, which clashes with Soca Monarch finals.

"We welcome the fact that the kings and queens are getting increased prize money. We are also aware that the additional changes that we have been asking for have been attended to, save for an independent monitor of the adjudication and judging system," Weekes said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"The kings and queens will be participating in the show," he said.

Weekes, who portrays the king for six-time Band of the Year winner Brian MacFarlane, was joined by last year's winner Roland St George, long-running winner Curtis Eustace and several other major kings in threatening a collective boycott of the competition unless there were changes to the shows.

"We understand that there has been improvements to the hospitality arrangements for the performers, now, this announcement of the improved prize money, and we are still dealing with the copyright issue," he said.