|$4M for Chutney Soca, $7M for Soca Monarch |
By SEETA PERSAD and Darcel Choy Friday, February 7 2014
Two million dollars will be the first prize of the Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch final now that Government has allocated $4.5 million to the competition.
Pleased with the funding announced by Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas, the show’s promoter George Singh declared yesterday, “In the event that this is the reality, then the first prize in this year’s competition will be $2 million.”
Earlier in the Carnival season, Singh disclosed he had asked for $5 million and complained Government had yet to come forward with the money, threatening to put the show on hold before proceeding with the semi-finals held last Saturday at Rienzi Complex, Couva.
However, there will be a new monarch when the finals takes place on February 15 at Skinner Park, San Fernando as last year’s winner Raymond Ramnarine announced he would not defend the crown since he was still owed $200,000 from the $1 million first prize.
In 2011, the prize was $2 million, then $1 million in 2012 and 2013.
Singh yesterday said as sponsors Government pays the prizes to the artistes.
“I am still lobbying for the payments of $200,000 for Ramnarine and I am hoping that this department can be settled in due course,” Singh said.
However, while Singh is pleased Government has come through for his show, Peter Scoon, chairman of Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF), promoter of the NLCB International Soca Monarch competition, believes this country’s culture is being placed on the back burner.
This was his response to the $7 million allocation CPF will receive for its show, whose semi-finals takes place at Arima Velodrome, Arima on Sunday, with the finals on February 28 at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain.
Scoon said CPF received almost the same amount last year, but it was not sufficient to run the organisation properly, as the minimum needed was an estimated $10 million. Even so, the first prize is expected to remain $2 million.
Scoon said he and a team met Douglas to discuss what financial assistance they needed, but he said they have never been able to convince Government of the importance of the International Soca Monarch competition to the entertainment industry and to the country’s culture.
He said the event provides employment for many people.
“If they were to do their research, every single international festival like Soca Monarch though privately owned is funded by the Government, anywhere in the world,” Scoon said.
He said this year the CPF will have international celebrities on the commentary panel including reality star and model Tahiry Jose, actors Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjoe and actress Nicole Ari Parker. He said they will have international music producers from SONY music visiting as well for the competition.
“We are also in negotiations with Fuse TV, which serves 70 million households to bring a team down here, not only to videotape the Soca Monarch, but the flora and fauna of Trinidad and Tobago and for that we have no support,” he said.
It is noted that the NLCB, the body that runs State lotteries, is a sponsor of the Chutney Soca and International Soca Monarch competitions, so too are the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism and the Office of the Prime Minister.