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Published on January 23rd, 2016 | by The Trinidad Guardian


Fixing Panorama – ..pan movement must embrace modernisation

The T&T Guardian is running a two-part series that explores the viability of the steelband movement and of the Carnival staple, Panorama. Today, music critic and analyst Nigel A Campbell looks at how the pan movement can develop other sources of revenue and stop its dependence on government funding.


The annual ritual of the steelband Panorama competition has begun in T&T, and continues apace through the stages culminating on Carnival Saturday with the finals. With the financial cutbacks in all areas of the economy including Carnival, there is a recognition that the sum of the parts have to be efficient and excellent to make the whole better. The holistic view taken by some commentators and pundits—of Panorama being in need of “fixing”—has raised the question of why has this analysis not been done and implemented before this recession, and why, even in these times, does the State still pump money in the millions into Carnival and its events such as Panorama.

A simple answer could be that Panorama represents the apotheosis of the national instrument. That reasoning was supplied by steelpan researcher Dr Kim Johnson, who spoke to the T&T Guardian about the idea of the continuation of the state-funded event within the context of moribund standards for the industry of steelpan throughout the year. Johnson noted the history of Panorama: “Panorama was the PNM government of the 1960s taking control of the steelband movement, what they saw as national culture. The strategy included making it more lucrative to play in Panorama because of prize money and appearance fees than to play in parties and fêtes.”  The intrigue continues with the assertion that the early Panorama became the antithesis of the existing Bomb competition with opposing class and racial groups challenging for control and influence—the new governing elite insisting that calypso be played versus the working class playing classical music—and critically voter support.  “PNM had no organised masses like a union, so panmen represented a structured link to the voting masses,” said Johnson.

to the National Carnival Commission (NCC), which effectively runs Carnival, of which Pan Trinbago got $30 million. Pan Trinbago head Keith Diaz says his organisation requested $45 million from the government, but Culture minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said, “The current economic conditions have forced the Government to cut back.” Efforts to get a statement from the minister in relation to the

question of the rationale and policy for state funding of steelpan proved futile.

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