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Caribbean

Published on September 28th, 2013 | by Peter Ray Blood Trinidad Guardian Newspapers

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Wish list or bucket list for Carnival?

Finance Minister Larry Howai read a $60 billion-plus budget last week in Parliament and now the custodians of T&T Carnival, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), wait with bated breath to see what quantum of funds will be allocated to Carnival 2014. On Sunday, NCC chairman Allison Demas told the T&T Guardian the State had doled out approximately $100 million to run this year’s Carnival. The NCC has scheduled a launch of the Carnival 2014 festival for October 26 to 27, at a venue to be announced. Apart from disclosing how much the organisation will spend on Carnival, it is also expected to reveal the format of events and any changes that might be made in the structure and production of the national festival. Demas said the organisation will start rolling out plans for the festival this week. In terms of mas, especially the staging of the Parade of Bands, one can expect some significant changes to the parade route for masquerade bands, particularly in Port-of-Spain. For several years bandleaders and masqueraders have complained about the inadequacy of the route, given the growing population of bands, and congestion caused at the main judging venue, the Queen’s Park Savannah.

For years some bandleaders have lobbied for the drawing of lots, allocating specific days for bands to parade at this venue. Another perennial bugbear has been the disbursement of prize money to kings, queens and individuals, with stakeholders clamouring for increased monetary awards. One question all SIGs are hoping to be answered is about Dimanche Gras, a traditional production which underwent sweeping changes for Carnival 2013. Calls have been made to return this show to Carnival Sunday night, with all its components, inclusive of the National Calypso Monarch final and the finals of the King and Queen competition. This year, these finals were extracted from the traditional model and were staged on the Thursday and Friday nights preceding Carnival weekend. Pan Trinbago is expected to maintain its format for the National Panorama competition, its finals to be held on Carnival Saturday night, at the Savannah. The days of the National Calypso Monarch contesting the final for $50, a silver cup and a bottle of rum are long gone. For the past three years, winners have collectively won $4 million. This leap in prize money was no doubt inspired by the $2 million first prize awarded to William Munro’s International Soca Monarch, Carnival’s biggest production, staged by Caribbean Prestige Foundation on Carnival Friday night.

Since Carnival, the NCC has undergone some significant personnel changes at its helm with the departure of Clarence Moe as the organisation’s CEO. His shoes were filled by interim CEO Edward Metivier, and although the NCC has remained silent in recent months on its operations, reports indicate that the position has been filled by Michael Guyadeen. One stakeholder of a Carnival SIG said on Sunday: “So far, things are encouraging, as Mr Guyadeen has been very receptive to all suggestions made to him.” So, with six months left before J’Ouvert on Carnival Monday, all fingers are crossed that the State and the NCC will deliver the goods to produce one of the best Carnivals ever.

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