Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Masmen Want For Carnival 2011

ENJOYING THE REVELRY: A character from Tribe's 2010 presentation
 The Secret of Silk.
Stakeholders in the Carnival industry have for a long time been calling on Government to provide a better support system for them in the production of the festival once hailed as the greatest show on earth.
The Express is asking these stakeholders and special interest groups what they believe is needed to make C2K11 the best ever. We first chatted with mas bandleaders asking whether they wanted to return to the Big Stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah and whether if there is anything the Culture Ministry and other arms of Government can do to make mas making easier.
Brian Mac Farlane, who won the Band of the Year for the fourth time this year, said he hopes mas will return to the Savannah next year because he believes that is where it belongs. He said he wants to meet with Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston ’Gypsy’ Peters at the right time to offer other suggestions on how mas and Carnival on the whole can be improved.
’Pan and calypso have already returned to the Savannah so why not mas? We also need to find an effective way to encourage masmen to return to the glory days of mas and come back to elements of good design. The Government needs to put the right incentives in place so designers will be creative again. Bring people back to the drawing boards,’ Mac Farlane said.
Mac Farlane also said there are too many unnecessary vehicles on the parade route that should not be there. He said the controversial wee wee trucks should be done away with and more toilet facilities placed along the route. He said he also does not see the need for party trucks and ice cream trucks moving within the bands.

Dean Akin of Tribe agrees that returning to the Savannah will be a good thing, but only if proper measures are taken to ensure there will be no congestion of bands since once the Big Stage is there, ’everyone will want to cross it so if things are not properly planned there will be the usual chaos we have always had to deal with. I welcome a return to the Savannah, but with better management so we don’t have that dreaded bottleneck.’
Akin also suggested that another big stage be placed further west along the route so that while some bands head for the Savannah others will choose to cross the more westerly stage first, freeing up the route. Akin said something must be done to stop the clash of vendors, masqueraders and spectators.
Akin said Tribe will have its mobile restrooms, which is the more pristine name for wee wee trucks. He added that as far as he is aware at least ten of the all-inclusive bands have these facilities because their masquraders prefer this instead of having to use toilets on the pavement or in parking lots. Akin said he knows all bands will provide wee wee trucks next year.
Dane Lewis of Island People Mas believes mas must return to the Savannah as a starting point for creating the best Carnival experience as far as mas is concerned. Lewis added that the route for the Parade of the Bands is dysfunctional and needs to be expanded and also made to cater for masqueraders, spectators and vendors alike.
’Put mas back on the stage. The parade route needs to be made functional for the masquerader, spectator and vendor alike because right now it is absolutely dysfunctional. The way things are, vendors are on the pavement where spectators should be, so the spectators end up on the road where the masqueraders are creating congestion and danger,’ Lewis said.
Lewis said he wants to see designated places for vendors where they can comfortably ply their trade without losing out on sales, while not hampering the flow of pedestrians and masqueraders. He also believes that the mas has outgrown the current route, which needs to be expanded to accommodate the increase of masqueraders, music trucks and utility vehicles.
’The route has not been examined for free flow for some time. Judging points need to be appropriately placed so more bands can compete within the given time frame. We can’t have bands taking hours to make three judging points before stopping for lunch and having the masqueraders on the road for 10 hours before eating. We also have to stay within the Ministry of Health’s stipulations for serving food so something needs to be done about the route and judging points,’ Lewis said.
PARTYING HARD: They enjoyed themselves in Tribe's 2010 presentation The Secret of Silk.
Saying he is confident that Peters will serve well as Culture Minister, Lewis also hopes the Government will look at providing concessions and lower duties on the importation of material for the mas bands. Lewis argued that the mas component of Carnival contributes to the revenue generated by the festival through tourism and therefore deserves the same breaks given to the hotel industry. ’Give us a reasonable break; we don’t want anything for free,’ Lewis said.
Vice President of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA), David Lopez believes the best year for mas ever is close at hand, but says there are challenges that must be overcome before such becomes a reality. He too said the main issues that need addressing are congestion, vending and getting the Savannah properly prepared for the Parade of the Bands.
’We welcome the Minister’s thoughts and plans, but there are challenges we will face. The NCBA and Minister, need to work hand in hand with the Mayor, NCC and police to deal with the congestion. The vendors need to make their money and they provide a needed service, but they need to be regulated. The City Council can’t just sell them spots on the pavement along the route causing problems when the bands pass,’ Lopez said.
Lopez said the NCBA is giving Peters time to settle in and they will approach him for a meeting where they will share ideas with him. Lopez agrees the Savannah is the best place for the parade, but not the makeshift venue there now. He wants Peters to state his position on the Carnival Arts Centre and whether or not it will be built and if so, when.
’We agree on returning to the Savannah, but not as it is now. What is the Minister’s position on the Carnival Arts Centre? Will it be built and if so when? In one year or two? It is already two years overdue. Anyway, the NCBA is very optimistic because Peters comes from the belly of the culture and we will work with him to achieve the goals we all have,’ Lopez said.
Secretary of the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF), Peter Reynald also cited congestion and vending as major issues to be dealt with. He said he is hoping that Carnival will be returned to the people as he believes the previous administration clamed the festival as its own to do with as it pleased. Reynald said mas must be immediately returned to the Savannah.
’First thing, put mas back in the Savannah. Administration of mas should be returned to the NCC and management of the Parade of the Bands be improved. We also want the payment of outstanding royalties (percentage of money earned from television, photos, DVD’s), another judging venue being created down in the west, expansion of the route, all stakeholders must be involved in the decision making process for Carnival, improvement of the facilities along the route. Vending is an integral part of Carnival so hygienic structures should be provided for vendors along the route,’ Reynald said.
Wayne Bowman

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