Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 17th 2015 Contents A27
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Carnival in 2015 might best be described by the
four growth poles that are its popular vectors.
In common discussion (and at least one adver-
tisement), we are variously identified as being in the
fete, on the stage, in the pan, and on the road.
Long gone are conversations about in the
tent, grooving to brass and chipping along with a
These are liabilities, along with artifacts like intel-
ligent old mas, theatre driven costuming and, appar-
ently, engaging calypso, of a Carnival that’s being
pulled between spotty efforts at entrepreneurship
and an official effort to engage with the festival that’s
equal parts politically driven State subsidy and blind
enthusiasm for embalming the shambling traditions
The tenure of Alison Demas was most notable for
its extended stakeholder consultations, research and
evaluation projects and a serious effort to
understand, through scientific observation and deep
discussion with subject matter experts, exactly what’s
actually happening in Carnival.
Those sessions were recorded as well as in reports.
Some of those documents
have been made available
participants, but the
wider Carnival commu-
nity would certainly ben-
efit from access to the
recordings of those delib-
erations and the strategic
plans that followed.
Taxpayers, after all, did
pay for their creation.
Divining the difference
between the pervasive and persuasive old talk about
what everyone thinks is happening, and the reality
on the ground will be critical to both understanding
and planning the future of Carnival.
A blinkered approach fuels the idea, for instance,
that the Greens and the North Stand have anything
at all to do with the rather severely circumscribed
world of the average panman.
The myth of a functioning, viable calypso tent
culture also still seems to linger on, despite that the
disastrous evidence that the Calypso Monarch Semi-
finals offered to anyone with the stomach to listen
to the entire debacle of dirges.
The real successes of Carnival remain firmly in
the private sector, where ideas like return on invest-
ment and accountability to investors still hold sway.
That business focus has galvanised opportunities
for soca performers, all-inclusive fete promoters and
the bandleaders who manage street party bands.
A surprising level of fuss seems to accompany
efforts by these entrepreneurs to operate without
access to the public purse.
Machel Monday in its earliest incarnations earned
the type of reflexive accusations of elitism and general
uppityness that the Socadrome concept has been
earning since it was introduced.
It’s time to acknowledge that the aggressive state
sponsored subventions that represent the Govern-
ment’s involvement in the festival have only served
to create, support and entrench a Carnival welfare
state that has effectively killed any lingering indications
of the pride, ownership and accomplishment that
characterised the event’s early development.
Competitiveness is not the same as competition
and by putting money behind prizes instead of prop-
erly monitored and supported grants, the billions of
dollars that have been poured into Carnival over the
last decade have created a festival designed for sprints,
The rush is to win the big pots of gold in the Road
March, the Soca Monarch, the Calypso Monarch and
the King and Queen of Carnival—what happens to
all this work after that moment of triumph is never
discussed or planned for.
It’s as if a business planned their success meas-
urements and goals, those delightfully named KPI’s,
around winning business of the year instead of design-
ing an enterprise engineered to maximise shareholder
Business continuity, the riding of the peaks and
valleys inherent in any commercial enterprise, is
crucial to planning any serious project that intends
to turn a profit, but for Carnival, we pile the money
to the Everest peak that’s achieved today, followed
by a slide into a Marianas Trench of disinterest by
Within 24 hours, we go from “The Party Start”
to “Party Done.” Did Beck’s career depend on winning
a Grammy? Where in the world is this a business
Why the Carnival stop so
from Yuma were in the
first section to “bless”
the Socadrome stage
in 2014. PHOTO: MARK
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