Friday, January 11, 2008

MASMEN GET MORE MONEY!

Anna Ramdass aramdass@trinidadexpress.com
Friday, January 11th 2008


HARD AT WORK: Ming Yee Foon, production assistant of the Evolution carnival band, puts the finishing touches on a head piece at the mas camp on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. -Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK



Masmen will be taking home big money this year for their creativity which breathes life into the spirit of Carnival.

And Cabinet has also agreed that pannists registered with Pan Trinbago would also get an increase stipend from $400 to $1,000.

Culture Minister Marlene McDonald announced yesterday that Cabinet agreed that $4.1 million will be injected into prizes for the large, medium and small band categories.

She said pannists deserved an increase since they are mostly drawn from the disadvantaged sectors of society and made sacrifices to attend nightly rehearsals.

However, there is still some contention as the winner who cops the band of the year title will take home $300,000, a $150,000 decrease from last year.

McDonald speaking at the post-Cabinet press conference at Whitehall, Port of Spain said that the band of the year will receive a 200 per cent increase in prize money from $100,000 to $300,000.

The prize for the best medium band jumped from $10,000 to $175,000 and the small band category increased from $6,000 to $90,000.

There is also a new category for mini bands with a $40,000 first prize which will have a trickle down effect.

McDonald said a total of $4,133, 800 has been approved by Cabinet for the revised prize structure an increase of $1,037,000 over 2007.

Winner of last year's "Band of the Year" large band category Brian Mac Farlane told the Express yesterday that while he was happy there has been increase for the medium and small band categories, he cannot comprehend how there can be a decrease in the prize money for the large band.

"That's very strange and odd, I got $450,000 last year," said Mac Farlane. He explained that at the prize giving ceremony last year he was only given $100,000 and there was controversy with respect to the remaining $350,000.

He said he and his team went on the internet and found the media report where then Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams stated that the large band winner would receive $450,000. Mac Farlane said the balance was eventually paid to him. The prize increase then was from $100,000 to $450,000.

McDonald said yesterday that as far as she knows that was a "one off payment", and what Cabinet had approved yesterday was a 200 per cent increase to the first place prize of $100,000 which was part of the previous prize structure.

"That $350,000 payment to the first prize winner, it was intended to be a one off payment...we never discussed retaining the $450,000," said McDonald.

She said what she presented to Cabinet was the recommendations of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) which she endorsed and which Cabinet accepted.

Cabinet also approved a total of $1 million to be given to the National Carnival Commission (NCC) for the presentation, restoration and development of traditional mas in areas outside of Port of Spain.
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