IRATE: Former King of Carnival Curtis Eustace gesticulates during his contribution at yesterday's meeting with the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

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Kings and Queens up in arms

Boycott threat for Carnival

By Verdel Bishop

Carnival Kings and Queens have threatened to boycott the final competition, which is set for February 8, if their concerns are not met.

That was the consensus yesterday, following a meeting held by National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

About 40 disenchanted masmen and women, who turned out for the meeting with NCBA officials, stormed out of a closed-door session demanding that the media be allowed to hear their concerns.

The Kings and Queens' demands include the final being switched to Wednesday February 6 instead of having to compete with the Soca Monarch final, the biggest show in Carnival, which is staged on the same night as the Kings and Queens competition (Friday February 8).

The masquerades are also calling for an increase in prize money, proper facilities, better marketing, proper planning and production, timely results following competitions and inclusion in all of the NCBA's decision-making process.

An irate Curtis Eustace, former multiple Carnival King, said if their concerns are not met, some of the biggest names in Carnival Kings and Queens will opt out of the competition.

He noted that a letter, which was sent to the NCBA three weeks ago, contained all of their concerns, which still remain unresolved.

"We have submitted a letter to the NCBA with solutions to solve the issues. We prefer that the show be held on the Wednesday night instead of the Friday where we can avoid Soca Monarch. We want to know what the prizes are. Every year we are competing without knowing what we are competing for. We have heard nothing about the adjudication system. Year after year the adjudication system remains questionable...that is a contentious issue. We have also requested results on time."

Eustace said he has been involved with mas for 40 years and nothing has changed. He said the issue of copyright is also a bone of contention.

"If it continues to be a sub-standard show then we will not be there."

Reigning King Roland St George is also threatening to boycott the show. He is also demanding proper marketing strategies for the show and constructive planning.

"Having our own show is a good idea, but proper planning and marketing must be done constructively in order for the show to grow," he said.

Children's band leader Roslyn Gabriel is also requesting changes be made. She said she will have no choice but to remove herself from competition.

"We will not be performing on the Friday night," she said.

NCBA secretary Renwick Browne said that the NCBA's aim is to improve the show.

"We are looking at this as an opportunity to have an improved show–something that we can sell against...what is meant to give our Kings and Queens the opportunity to produce a much more professional type of show, where we have an audience who is not going to lie down and sleep while the show is going on because of the length of time they sit there," Browne said.

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