Friday, December 15, 2017

Foundation ready to take Carnival to new heights

The National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) is on a mission to transform and diversify the mas industry. And it says it is prepared to do so with or without the support of other stakeholders.

NCDF chairman, Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, said on Wednesday they were confident that a strategic plan which was developed by the Bloom Consulting Company was bound to take the industry into an entirely new direction which can only auger well for Trinidad.

"We must move beyond just mas on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Carnival is much bigger than that and we must seek to diversify," Satram-Maharaj said during an interview at the NCDF's headquarters in Belmont.

Satram-Maharaj said the plan was developed following the hosting of a symposium entitled "A Strategic Plan for Transformation and Sustainability for the Mas Industry" held in April to May of last year. He said the NCDF was mindful that there will be some persons within the sector who may want to object to change and maintain the status quo, but he said "with or without them, this plan is going to be implemented".

He said former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams, who shared the NCDF's vision for change in the industry, had provided financial support for the initiative. He said over 200 stakeholders, inclusive of bandleaders, designers, artisans and managers, participated in the symposium.

Dr Keith Nurse, head of the Bloom Consulting Company, which focuses on the creative sector and specialises in researching this area, said the plan which they had developed consists of five key projects which are "doable" within a three to five-year period.

Nurse said one of the major projects they intend to undertake "will be to develop a virtual Carnival museum which are digitally achieved museums". He said they believed making use of technology was an innovative way of displaying and marketing the country's cultural artifacts. The strategic plan, he added, also included establishing a national vocational qualification, which will allow certification of young people in very specific technical areas from "wire bending, to Carnival designs. We must train and develop our human resource if there is to be long-term sustainability".

Nurse said as it relates to funding for these projects, they intend to form "strategic alliances" with businesses and other stakeholders in order to execute the plan. He said they were confident the plan will work and stressed that there was "tremendous opportunity" in marketing the Trini brand of Carnival.