Even though attendance levels at the International Soca Monarch (ISM) continue to decline, newly-installed Creative Director Simon Baptiste says he is not fazed by this.
Simon said the online viewing audience continues to number in the millions.
And while he is aware of the challenges facing him to improve the calendar event, Baptiste has pledged to give it his all.
Hoping to put his years of experience as a manager and event promoter to good use, the soft-spoken Baptiste said he was approached by the owners of the ISM with whom he had enjoyed an amicable working relationship over the years, to take the reins.
He believes his work ethic and drive, coupled with his ability to get the job done in a very short space of time were the main factors responsible for him being thrust into the post.
Baptiste is the Chief Executive Officer of Question Mark Entertainment, which has managed artistes such as Kes the Band, MX Prime and Nadia Batson. Question Mark also stages annual events such as Decibel and Kes the Band’s Tuesday on the Rocks.
Speaking with the Sunday Guardian as a four-member panel of judges listened to the submissions by artistes hoping to be selected for the semi-final show on Saturday, Baptiste said the preliminary round had been a gruelling one. The judges listened to 96 submissions in the category of Groovy Soca, and 79 submissions in the category of Power Soca.
Referring to the head judge, Martin Raymond who is currently in charge of the Music Department, University of T&T, Baptiste said Raymond has over 30 years experience and was eminently qualified to determine who would be moving forward.
Asked what criteria would be used to determine who would be moving on, Baptiste said, “That was created amongst ISM and the judges that have several categories on how the contestants would be chosen.”
Inspired by founder William Munroe, Baptiste said he was humbled by the opportunity to leave his own indelible mark.
Asked how he intended to bring the public back to the ISM, Baptiste said regardless of where people are in the world, “They want to see this because it’s part of their DNA, part of their diaspora and there is a growing audience because of streaming and all these other avenues that have increased the growth of ISM which has indeed remained a very powerful brand.”
However, he admitted there are things they need to do differently to win back the trust of the partying public and people who love this event.
Pointing to the large numbers of event promoters today, Baptiste said the level of competition had grown tremendously.