With Trinidad Carnival 2018 soon upon us preparations continue apace alongside the expected debates and disagreements. Currently, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) which ran the mas strand of Carnival in 2016 and 2017 has no mas representative on its new board which was installed in November.
The Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly recently gave the assurance that this absence will not pose a problem for the planning of masquerade bands and stressed the input of mas stakeholders alongside the NCC’s overseeing of mas for Carnival 2018.
The minister faces legal proceedings against her initiated by the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) over which mas body should be on the board of the NCC. The TTCBA has also called into legal question Minister Gadsby-Dolly’s decision to mete out a short-term appointment to David Lopez as President of the National Carnival Bands Association. Financial restraints are being discussed as in the present economic climate funds for Carnival are being closely monitored with regularisation and streamlining being implemented. Some days ago, Minister Gadsby-Dolly reiterated this saying: “Every ministry has received budget reductions as the national budget is being brought in line with our economic reality. The funds allocated to Carnival would also be subject to that decrease as we strive to reduce wastage and do more with less.”
Falling visitor numbers to the annual spectacle as well as a marked decrease in participation by residents both as masqueraders and spectators mean that there has been a shift in appreciation and perception. This needs to be addressed with resolve and urgency. The newly appointed Chair of the NCC former Soca artiste Colin Lucas has indicated that the new board of NCC will concentrate on analysis and planning.
Trinidad Carnival 2018 looms ahead on 12 and 13 February and there is much work to be done, not just on costumes and music and mas routes but on hearts and minds.