Carnival stakeholders say the government needs to make a firm decision on Carnival 2022 as soon as possible. While the Minister of Culture, Tourism and the Arts, Randall Mitchell said a decision will be made soon, they have been without work locally for almost two years, and are considering work offers from abroad. With no firm decision in hand, they are unable to plan.
On Tuesday in the Senate, and in response to a question posed to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and the Arts, during Question for Oral Answer, Minister Randell Mitchell said that a decision was coming soon. But president of the Promoters Association Jerome Precilla said his members have been handicapped by Government’s silence.
Precilla said they have been meeting with the Ministry of Culture and the various Carnival groups regularly, and have submitted proposals that detail plans that would allow them to get back to work without putting people’s lives at risk. He said the government has sufficient information to make the call.
“There are other places around the world that want to have events around the same time in February, but the promoters pledge allegiance to Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
One such event is Carnival Bubble ‘a private Carnival fetecation’ scheduled for February 25 to March 1 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The event website described it as “a concept that focuses on bringing to life the true essence of Carnival itself while keeping health and safety as the top priority.”
Several local artistes are listed in the entertainment cast. They include Kes the Band, Nadia Batson and Patrice Roberts.
But President of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association, Roselind Gabriel said she is optimistic that what they proposed is a workable solution. They envisaged a variety of shows or concert events like the traditional Dimanche Gras show, “could sample pan, it could sample calypso and it could sample mas,” she said.
Gabriel said they took the prime minister’s talk of a “carnival microcosmic mosaic” literally and said there remains an opportunity for the Kings and Queen show or the Individuals costumes to be showcased.
Like Precilla, Gabriel said Carnival workers have not had much opportunity to earn a living in their field for two years, and she said practitioners need to “get their feet wet.” She also said since COVID-19 may become an endemic virus, the population needs to learn to coexist with the virus without compromising safety.
“The most important thing for us is the safety of our peoples,” she said. “Quite recently we lost a lot of icons in the calypso arena, in the mas arena, and so we are mindful of the state of the COVID-situation in the country, and will be guided by everything that we are supposed to be doing.”
While Gabriel remains optimistic of a positive response from the Government, president of PanTrinbago Beverly Ramsey-Moore said their organistion is not waiting on the government to make their plans.
They already started making arrangements to host Resilience II: Pan is Spirit. The 2021 version of the concert was held virtually, this year it will take the form of a safe zone concert and will feature the single pan bands and small bands in performance spaces across the country including Tobago. There will be no attempt to interfere with the flagship event, because they cannot afford to, in her words, “water down” the Panorama competition.
Ramsey-Moore said if the government makes a decision they intend to “toe that line when the decision is made, if there is any decision at all. But at present based on what is happening with the country, I am not that optimistic.”