There are concerns that the National Carnival Committee’s (NCC) Pod system being used for some of this year’s A Taste of Carnival events may exclude many in society from participating in Carnival festivities.
According to the Principal and CEO of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St Lucia Dr Keith Nurse, pods are similar to ropes around bands which were used in the 1920s and 30s to separate social classes.
“It’s where you separate the middle classes from the working classes. The middle classes started to parade on what we call flatbed trucks so they weren’t on the road,” Dr Nurse explained.
The price of pods at Carnival City in the Queen’s Park Savannah may vary based on its size and the event. They can cost from $500 to $2,100 and were introduced to control crowds during the pandemic.
Speaking at a Webinar hosted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) about Managing the 2022 Carnival Experience in Trinidad & Tobago and Beyond, Dr Nurse said the capabilities of the production of Carnival are moving away from the ordinary citizen.
“Dearly departed Pat Bishop made the point very eloquently she said that carnival artistic production was moving west of Cipriani boulevard. Carnival has always been about both inclusion and exclusion and it’s a dynamic contest between the two and that’s what gives it its vitality” he said.
But Dr Nurse said to ensure inclusion there has to be support for the working class so that they can keep up with other classes, in the production of music, costumes and in steelbands.
“Can our working-class bands set up a website with eCommerce capabilities and if they can’t is there a mechanism to support them to do so, can they position themselves to ensure that their music is on Spotify,” he elaborated.
Dr Nurse said that’s what Carnival has done for T&T’s society, give a space for everyone to participate.
“To me, Pods are going to replicate and deepen the process of exclusion,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) cancelled the National Calypso and Extempo Monarch competitions. Dr Kela Francis believes they should not return.
She said while creatives need to make money, it should not be through a tool that is controlled by the state, especially since the artform gives the space for expression.
For 2022, so far, soca music has made strides internationally, Patrice Robert’s “Drink Water and Mind Yuh Business” is being used by many celebrities, Denise Belfon’s “Put Yuh Back In It” was sampled by Shenseea and Meg Thee Stallion and Kes represented T&T in the Grammy’s Global Spin.
Managing Director of Eventology TT Derrick Lewis said those efforts were well-positioned but needs to be done in a concerted effort.
“So when Kees goes out he needs to go with a contingent of people around him who represent the country in different areas in the entertainment industry so we can move the entire thing forward,” he said.