Monday, October 04, 2010

No NCC Board in September?: Carnival stakeholders raise eyebrows

Janelle ‘Penny’ Commissiong-Chow
 is also rumored
 to be in the NCC chairperson running.
 photo
 courtesy members.shaw.ca
Big stage back for Carnival
Soca artiste Blackie is taking a “wait and see” approach to the current posture of the National Carnival Commission (NCC). “As far as those boards concerned, I stay away from that! When you say things about them, they keep you in mind. Once you make a comment and they don’t like the comment you make, they hold you in mind,” Blackie said. As an entertainer whose music is integral to the life of the festival, Blackie, along with fellow artistes, musicians, dancers, engineers, event coordinators, and countless others, is essentially a stakeholder in the Greatest Show on Earth. With the election of a new government in May, former chairman of the NCC, Howard Chin Lee, automatically stepped down from the post, leaving a void that had to be filled in time for Carnival 2011.
Additionally, nine people must be selected to form the organisation’s Board of Commissioners. To date, there has been no confirmed action as it relates to instituting a new NCC board.
One Carnival stalwart–Errol Peru– has been tipped for the post of Chairman. The former manager of Lord Kitchener, is certainly a man with years of experience under his belt when it comes to Carnival affairs. Another big name in the running for the position is T&T’s very own, Miss Universe 1977, Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow. Still, while the buzz is strong around the capital city, and certainly among members of the Carnival industry, there is no official word that systems are being put in place to ensure that a new NCC board will be instituted by the end of October.
Kiddies Bandleader Disappointed
Kiddies Carnival bandleader, Roslyn Gabriel admitted she was very concerned and disappointed. “I am disappointed as to how close we are to Carnival with no NCC board. We felt that as elections were in May, a Board would have been put in place by now, but it hasn’t.”
Gabriel, who will launch her kiddies Carnival band, Storytellers, on October 17 at her mascamp in Woodbrook, said she has heard the general talk of Commissiong-Chow and Peru having been earmarked for the post. “I know that Penny is capable, but I was hoping to have someone who has Carnival experience. The position is a technical and demanding one, and the chairman must be able to put infrastructure in place in a short space of time. The savannah needs big changes. There’s no driveway for the trucks, and a lot of infrastructure is needed,” she lamented. Gabriel said to date she has seen no sign of infrastructural improvement at the Queens Park Savannah in preparation for Carnival. “If anything is happening, I have not seen it. I’m worried and I am fed up of Carnival being treated like a two-month affair. Carnival should be a key focus, year round,” she said.
Why Not Gregory Aboud? 
Legacy bandleader, Big Mike Antoine, highlighted that a chairman of such an important board should have a good relationship with stakeholders. He said he felt DOMA President Gregory Aboud would have been the fittest person for the job. “Gregory Aboud’s experience as president of DOMA would have made him a good candidate. I think he understands the nature of the Port of Spain merchants, and he is also into Carnival. He supplies the Carnival materials, even banners for steelbands, and when he greets stakeholders, he holds good discussions and listens to the concerns of those involved.” While Aboud was not among those tipped for the post, Big Mike said there was an urgent need for the position to be filled. “Carnival is fast approaching and decisions need to be made now, to get things right. Almost all the mas bands have launched, new soca is out, but infrastructure needs to be put in place and decisions need to be made,” he argued.
Mike Applauds Big Stage Come Back
With confirmation from Multiculturalism and the Arts Minister, Winston “Gypsy” Peters that the big stage would be re-constructed in the Savannah, Mike emphatically exclaimed, “I for one am happy to know the big stage is coming back. To showcase Carnival to the rest of the world, we need that stage. When they removed the stage the next best venue became around the bridge. Now that the stage is coming back, people will want to come back just to cross that big stage.” He said in St Croix he was met with a blunt negative when he invited revellers there to visit T&T for Carnival, prior to the announcement. “They said their venue was better, we had no stage,” he said. “Now, they may want to come!” But even amid the chaos and chatter of no NCC board, this Carnival stakeholder continues his move to take mas and T&T’s culture to the world. “I’m taking Legacy to Miami in October. When I return, I’ll be launching my 2011 presentation on October 23. Hopefully, an NCC board will be in place by then.”
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