READY FOR SLASH: The pool set up at the Queens Park Savannah as part of the "Pan Splash" posse lime to take place during Sunday's semi-finals of the National Panorama. Photo by Ishmael Salandy.

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PAN SHAME

Steelband arrangers blast Panorama pool party: Disrespect for the national instrument

By Verdel Bishop verdel.bishop@trinidadexpress.com

Pan Splash, a new feature added to The Greens by Pan Trinbago for Sunday’s Panorama semi-finals, has been criticised by members of the pan fraternity as a blow and a blatant disrespect to the national instrument and the Panorama competition.
Steelband arrangers yesterday spoke out against the introduction of the pool party at the pan semis to be held at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, this weekend.
Arranger for defending Panorama champions Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, said Pan Trinbago should be ashamed. “This is our national instrument and a national competition and you want to keep a pool party? This has nothing to do with the steelpan. Panorama is our biggest time of the year. This pool party will take people away from the Panorama. It should be kept on a separate day and kept away from Panorama. A pan man who really loves pan and really respects you wouldn’t stand for that. All pan men should not stand for this. This is disrespect to all of us,” Boogsie said.
Valley Harps arranger Michelle Huggins said she found the idea humorous. “I find that so very humorous. I am in disagreement with it because it is a musical event and a pool has no place there. It is not linked to the pan competition and it could become very ugly. This could also encourage people to become unsupportive of the art form and lose focus.
PCS Silver Stars assistant manager, Chanel Pouchet , also called Pan Trinbago’s move disrespectful. “I just feel that it is a little sad that this is what Panorama has reached to and I think it is disrespectful to the bands involved. The governing body is supposed to represent us. People are not going to be interested in what is happening on stage and it is unfair to the competition and it is sad that we have to put up with that. I understand that they are trying to attract a different audience to the event but I don’t think that a pool party in pan semifinals is the right thing and it is unfair that we have to put up with that,” Pouchet said.
Arranger Pelham Goddard also spoke against the pool party. “That is a big distraction from the main event. This is Panorama and it should have Panorama alone. They should be thinking to promote Panorama and if they have to depend on another event to prosper or to boost Panorama that is bad, that is very bad. Every year they are coming with something ridiculous. That event would not attract anyone interested in Panorama,” Goddard said.
In 2011, bp Renegades Steel Orchestra was directly affected by noise from percussion instruments on The Greens. Arranger Arddin Herbert said he prefers to see what happens before commenting on Pan Trinbago’s latest plans. “Right now I am concentrating on getting my band to the Savannah to perform. I don’t want to think about what Pan Trinbago has done. A few years ago we were affected. It was sorted out but I want to wait and see what happens first before I can say more,” Herbert said.
Culture Minister Lincoln Douglas yesterday however justified the use of The Greens for a pool party.
At the post-Cabinet news conference the Minister was asked whether the event was taking away from the essence of the Panorama semifinals.
Douglas said he had raised the issue with president of Pan Trinbago, Keith Diaz. He said he was prepared to accept Diaz’s explanation that the events on The Greens “facilitate the involvement of young people in associating with the steelband and that the people who participate in this event are those to listen to, and play pan eventually. They (Pan Trinbago) are more versed in these things than I am and my concerns have been answered in that way,” Douglas said.
Asked whether he planned to attend the event, Douglas said he would “pass by” and would “be around for a little while to see what is going on. And certainly I would have my critical questions”.
Douglas also announced that Government would be giving financial support to the tune of $2.7 million to 178 unsponsored steelbands during the Carnival season.
The concept of a party on The Greens which features “posses’ of pan lovers who prefer a party atmosphere was introduced a few years ago by Pan Trinbago to the Panorama steelband competition. It has attracted criticism from pan lovers in that it distracts from the competition. But Pan Trinbago has countered that it brings in revenue for the organisation. This year it costs $350 for a ticket to The Greens while the Pan Splash party will cost $700. Described by Pan Trinbago as an experiment with a “pool” posse, the pool will be 70 feet (21 metres) and four feet (1.2 metres) deep. The Pan Splash area will have a separate entrance from The Greens. It is owned by a group of companies.
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