Friday, November 12, 2010

NCC: New plans for Carnival 2011

Mas returns to the big stage at the Queen's Park Savannah.
Photos: Roberto Codallo
Minister of The Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston “Gypsy” Peters responded to a question about possible congestion at the Queen’s Park Savannah because of bands lining up to cross the returning Big Stage come Carnival 2011 saying, “What rhymes with Carnival? Bacchanal. Right? There must be bacchanal in Carnival.”
With the new Board of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) in place under the leadership of chairman, Kenny De Silva the race to have the Queen’s Park Savannah ready for 2011 is on. De Silva and his team is, however, seeking to keep the bacchanal to a minimum and produce the most successful Trinidad Carnival to date or at least one much more enjoyable and ordered than the recent editions of the festival
The first major hurdle facing the new NCC Board is the Queen’s Park Savannah, which the board members toured on November 8 alongside Peters and the media. What greeted them as they arrived at the South Stand erected a couple of years ago after the Grand Stand was demolished was a dilapidated structure serving as a nesting ground for rats, roaches and other vermin. Ragged, grimy triangular flags hung from the rafters, while broken boards with protruding nails were everywhere.
“Imagine people coming here after Carnival and seeing this. It is sad, very sad. This is not about using Carnival as a political tool. This is downright neglect and disrespect for what is one of the greatest products that we can sell Trinidad and Tobago to the world with. 

“When foreigners from all around the world see our Carnival on television and then come here to see where the greatest show on earth takes place, and this is how it is, what will they think? I have always said that the most neglected things in this country are culture and agriculture. When all the oil and gas done these are what we will be left with,” Peters said.
De Silva explained that he was dis-heartened when he first saw what the area of the Queen’s Park Savannah used for Carnival had become, but he and the members of the board already has some ideas as to what they have to do to get the venue up and ready for the first event of Carnival 2011, which should be in early February.

The temporary South Stand will be removed and erected further eastward where the original Grand Stand once stood. The North Stand will be returned to its original location which has been paved over. De Silva said the Stand will be anchored on its original footprints and although these have been paved over twice, drawings of the site will guide them as to where these anchor points are. As for whether there is enough time to get everything done, De Silva said that in 2001 the North Stand went up in 13 days.
As for the cost of resurrecting the Queen’s Park Savannah, Peters said that whatever is needed, within reason, will be provided by the Government. He said that expenditure on Carnival is an investment and the Queen’s Park Savannah is the Mecca of Carnival as well as an important factor in the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and so must be treated with respect. The Minister said he is very confident that the new NCC Board will deliver a Carnival of high standards and if they fail to do so they will have to give account for that.

“The Carnival is in their hands, we are only the facilitator. Again, if people come and see this they will think it is where we dump things. It hurts me. Whatever it takes we will be here for Carnival. I am not saying we are sparing no costs because the Government just does not have that kind of money in these hard economic times, but we will do all within our power to present a good Carnival,” Peters said.
De Silva told the Express that the Board is continuing to plan what will be done at the Savannah and will present a more complete plan in the coming days. Taking the environment into consideration whatever is done will not encroach further on any of the present grassland of the Savannah as all structures will be constructed on the already paved areas of the venue. 
The plans also include possibly moving the VIP stand across from Memorial Park into the paved area of the Savannah, while the building housing the artistes' dressing rooms will also be moved and incorporated into the layout. Other areas being focused on by the NCC are security, parking, concession stands for vendors and additional stands. (See Page 2 for proposed Panorama dates and Tuco auditions.)

By Wayne Bowman 

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