“[…] The truth is that culture and, moreso, the business of Carnival has lost, both in terms of revenue generation and reputation, over the course of these two missed years.
“Our refusal to even so much as consider hosting a festival this year will only be seen as an opportunity by our many rivals to stand in the gap and replace T&T Carnival—not just for this year, but for many years to come…”
The following Letter to the Editor, which makes the case for a deferred Carnival 2022 celebration this year, was submitted to Wired868 by George Elias of Cascade:
Over the past few days, Carnival lovers have been teased by a number of announcements.
Some bands have opened up registrations, even announcing a theme for Carnival 202, and have subsequently filled their quotas. Dates in the Carnival 2023 calendar have begun to be filled as some of the popular fetes announced future event dates, and even the National Carnival Commission is getting in on the act by unveiling Carnival 2023 branding and announcing that they are deep into planning the next edition of the world’s greatest show.
All things being equal, one can expect that Carnival 2023 is a ‘GO’. And already, it promises to be the biggest and best one that we have hosted in years.
Before we get to that point, however, I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed that—with the expectation of Covid-19 becoming endemic, the positive learnings from the recent ‘Taste of Carnival’, and recent announcements that other regional carnivals will proceed this year—the conversation here in T&T has not shifted to that of our hosting a ‘deferred’ Carnival 2022.
The idea of a deferred Carnival is, of course, not a unique discussion. Most famously in 1973, an outbreak of polio led to the then Government taking a decision to postpone Carnival celebrations to May of that year.
Some may argue that, given the possible threat of future Covid-19 spikes, it is better for us to err on the side of caution. They may say that announcing a 2023 event would provide ample time for stakeholders to plan and execute a fitting return to bacchanalia.
However, the truth is that culture–and moreso the business of Carnival–has lost, both in terms of revenue generation and reputation, over the course of these two missed years. Our refusal to even so much as consider hosting a festival this year will only be seen as an opportunity by our many rivals to stand in the gap and replace T&T Carnival—not just for this year, but for many years to come.
Who can say with any degree of certainty that a well-marketed Carnival 2022 in Grenada, St Lucia or Barbados will not result in a permanent shift in the habits of many of the tens of thousands of visitors who would have previously made a winter break visit to Trinidad a mainstay in their annual plans?
And given the economic challenges we already face, can we afford to lose any ground when it comes to our premier cultural/tourism product?
Be it held in May, August or even October, shouldn’t we be having a conversation about a deferred Carnival 2022 before we embark on any discussion about Carnival 2023?