Changes to Carnival
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Thursday, December 13 2012
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A MAJOR overhaul of Carnival 2013 was announced by new National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairperson Allison Demas, yesterday at the formal launch of Carnival 2013 at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) Hotel in Port-of-Spain.
Demas pointed out changes would include a “Groovy Soca — Monday Nite” steelpan competition by Pan Trinbago and a change in the parade route.
The route would be expanded, adjustments would be made to the time allotted to bands on stage, and the number of vehicles accompanying Bands would be restricted. She noted the NCC is in the process of having consultations with mas stakeholders such as the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association, as well as the Police and Port-of-Spain City Corporation as to changes in the parade route.
The “Groovy Soca — Monday Nite” would be a new element to Carnival in which competing steelbands play a Groovy Soca tune to be judged. The competition would take place on Carnival Monday night in the Northern, South/Central, Eastern and Tobago regions.
Some of the ideas however, such as the removal of the competition element from Dimanche Gras, having the Panorama semi-finals over two days, a separate King and Queen of Carnival competition, and a separate Calypso Monarch finals, would be a rehash of previous systems.
Previously, Dimanche Gras was the show in which the King and Queen of Carnival, as well as the Calypso Monarch would be decided. However, with the competition element removed, it would be a showcase of local talent and creativity. Demas noted the NCC published a tender for Dimanche Gras where producers and promoters would submit proposals, which the NCC would review, as to how the show would be developed.
National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) president, David Lopez, said a separate Kings and Queens Carnival was done during the late 90s to early 2000s, for three consecutive years.
He said Dimanche Gras was “long and sometimes boring” and he was looking forward to a “tight” show which would run for a maximum of three hours.
The show, which would begin promptly at 6 pm on “Big Friday” (the Friday before Carnival) would be produced by Geraldo Viera Jr, son of the late mas designer, Geraldo Viera.
“Having a separate show is one of the greatest ideas. The decision to have it stand on its own was one of the wishes of the NCBA over the years,” said Lopez.
The new arrangements for the Panorama competition was also similar to previous shows. Pan Trinbago president, Keith Diaz told Newsday, once before, the semi-finals for the large bands were divided into two days. In 2013 however, the Small and Single pan semis would take place on Saturday January 26, 2013, while the Large and Medium bands would perform on Sunday January 27.
“On both days the show would start at noon and finish at a reasonable time,” said Diaz. “The Grand Stand is already prepared for Carnival so it would save us money. It would also allow us to showcase the single pan and small bands on the big stage, rather than have them dodging cars.”
In addition, the Calypso Monarch finals would be held on Carnival Thursday. Lutalo Masimba, president of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) said, even though the Monarch had been crowned Thursday in 1999, he looked forward to the change.
Speaking at the event, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas announced the stipend for panmen who take part in the preliminary stage of the Panorama competition would remain at $1,000.
He also made the commitment to give “significant” prizes to the winners of national Carnival competitions.
However, the prize would include an ambassadorial aspect to it, so that winners would be expected to represent the country, on an international level, for the year. This, he said, is an attempt to “expand the reach of our cultural products.”