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Trinidad and Tobago

Published on January 8th, 2017 | by TandT Newsday Newspapers

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Pan in danger

Senior reporter COREY CONNELLY looks at the financial troubles plaguing Pan Trinbago ahead of this year’s Panorama competitions. When he penned “Pan In Danger” back in 1985, late calypsonian Merchant (Dennis Williams Franklyn) bemoaned Trinidad and Tobago’s difficulties in elevating the profile of the steelpan, the only new musical instrument created in the 21st century.
Merchant, though, perhaps never envisaged that the pan, which remains the country’s foremost musical invention, would actually reach the point of being under threat, decades after its inception.  The ongoing, bitter standoff between Pan Trinbago, the world’s governing body for the instrument and members of the fraternity over the alleged non-payment of monies owed to players for the 2016 Panorama competition, cast a dismal light on the operations of the organisation, so much so that pan men are threatening to stay away from this year’s competition.

The disgruntled panmen, who have formed themselves into a group referred to as United Players Movement, also are calling for the head of Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz and his executive, whom they claimed, have thrown the organisation into disrepute and done little to advance the cause of the steelpan and members of the fraternity. Diaz, though, remains warded at the St Clair Medical Centre after suffering a heart attack late Thursday in the throes of the controversy. Richard Forteau has since been appointed to act as Pan Trinbago president. In addition, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan-Gadsby- Dolly, responding to recent reports of financial impropriety within Pan Trinbago, has said the organisation will be relieved of some of its responsibilities for this year’s Carnival. For example, she said the National Carnival Commission will now collect gate receipts from ticket sales at Panorama – an activity that has always been carried out by Pan Trinbago.

For Beverly Ramsey-Moore, manager of the Tobago-based Petrotrin Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, the panmen’s call for the Diaz-led Pan Trinbago to step down from office is just.  Since becoming a member of Pan Trinbago’s executive, back in 2010, Ramsey-Moore said she quickly realised that things seemed amiss in the organisation. “I recognised from the first few months that we were in serious problems,” she told Sunday Newsday in a no-holds-barred interview.  Ramsey-Moore said she observed that Pan Trinbago did not, in her opinion, have a structure and that it gave “absolute power” to the president. “And because of how it was worded, any president who was a megalomaniac would have abused the authority,” she said. Ramsey-Moore, who had served as assistant secretary, said she and few other executive members at the time, also began questioning “certain practices” in the organisation. “You cannot be spending millions of dollars and you have no financial rules,” she claimed, referring to the operations of Pan Trinbago at that time. “The constitution called for committees to be set up and if you are interested in good governance and you really want to be a president with an executive known for good governance, clearly you would ensure that your finance committee is set up.” Ramsey-Moore, who had contested Pan Trinbago’s leadership in October 2015, said she and the other executive were adamant that the organisation was headed down a destructive path.

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