Thursday, February 18, 2010

BOYCOTT! Fed-up MacFarlane: No more competition for me

CELEBRATION ALL AROUND: Bandleader Brian MacFarlane, centre, celebrates with his team members yesterday at their Rosalino Street, Woodbrook, mas camp after capturing their fourth straight Band of the Year title with Resurrection-The Mas.-Photo: CURTIS CHASE

Brian MacFarlane, four-time winner of the George Bailey Large Band of the Year title for his 2010 presentation, Resurrection-the Mas, will not compete for the coveted title next year.

Though the mas man insisted he will still create and present mas in 2011, he said the five hours’ waiting to cross the final Queen’s Park Savannah judging point on Carnival Tuesday night helped him make the decision.

’We had people here and ready from 5 a.m., in those costumes and make-up since then, and we don’t get to cross the stage till 8.30 p.m. That was too much,’ he said during a victory celebration at his Rosalino Street, Woodbrook, mas camp.

Though MacFarlane was pleased with the victory and described the feeling as ’wonderful’, he was still disgusted by the band’s long wait to cross the main stage. MacFarlane said Carnival has become too corporate and too focused on making money and not about the historical significance of the mas.

’Sometimes I feel like giving up. Like I am fighting a losing battle when I see where mas has gotten to,’ he said.

MacFarlane said the lack of a proper display area hindered the public from really seeing and understanding his presentation.

Though hesitant to offend the authorities, MacFarlane said he spoke with Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs Marlene McDonald and pleaded his case about the state of Carnival, but to no avail. He said he was out-voted at the last meeting of stakeholders when he proposed changing the Queen’s Park Savannah judging point.

’I’m not going down that route again. I will speak to the other bandleaders and corporate sponsors to get their support to get this right,’ he said, adding that the money incentive did help to offset the cost of production, since MacFarlane’s was not a money-making band.

’Thankfully, I have a design studio that help buffer the cost of presenting the mas. Anyone can look at our costumes and know we don’t make a set of money,’ he said.

’But someone has to make a stand,’ he said.
MacFarlane even criticised the staging area for the Kings and Queens competition at the Savannah. He described it as an animal ’pen’.
The veteran mas man said there was ’no energy, no vibe’ for the contestants. He said if the National Carnival Commission kept the format of the Dimanche Gras show, with the contestants vying for the Calypso Monarch crown going after the parade of Kings and Queens of Bands, the masqueraders would be at the mercy of the Paramin winds.

MacFarlane’s King, ’The Dragon Can Dance’, paraded by Gerard Weekes, fell during the final after high winds caused severe damage. MacFarlane said he will not put his costumes on wheels to cater for the wind factor. ’If they have to fall, let them fall,’ he said.

’Carnival is dying and there are people trying to kill it. Why must everything be in a cage and for financial gain? Yes, it came from the street, but we should evolve from there,’ he said.

The still-energetic mas man even took a jab at Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), the corporate sponsor behind today’s Beyonce I Am... concert at the Savannah. ’I was going to walk with a can of spray paint and leave a message on that billboard, telling them to respect our culture first,’ he laughed.

’That same money could have been spent on promoting our local culture,’ he said.

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