What a great result from the Panorama semi-finals last Sunday. The two groovy “young boy” songs Year for Love and Hello—subject only to a tie for fourth place with Lightning Flash—ran first, second, third and fourth as played by Renegades, Despers, Phase II and Skiffle respectively.
These songs create a feeling of peace and some optimism that we will survive the killing and heavy tension currently enveloping us. They have replaced the defiance of We Jammin Still.
The choice of these songs by seasoned pan arrangers is confirmation that the succession plan for our unique performing arts is evolving on the ground with a sweet type of love—thank you, Kees, for that great line in Hello.
The “authorities” have been quick to claim that they have contributed to this evolution. I contend that the evolution has come despite backward, self-interested management and funding of Carnival arts in and out of season.
They only now see the extent of the involvement of the youth? Can they now see the societal turn-around potential of the arts to which so many of us have tried to draw attention, largely in vain?
The success of those carrying forward the performing arts has not been fuelled by the easy money of the dependency syndrome, which is now under scrutiny as the dependency funds dry up. These successful artistes understand that “to make a money” they have to please a market.
I acknowledge Machel Montano for the phrase “make a money”—which I was fortunate to hear him use at close quarters recently. Those who talk about diversification of the economy might consider whether the label Soca Kingdom has rebranding possibilities for our richly artistic island.
Pan Trinbago, at least, appears to have finally understood the dynamics of the entertainment market after its stubbornness has done considerable harm to the Panorama product. For years, in diminishing numbers, we have given sweet and enduring type of love to Panorama but our need for prime bands in prime time has been spurned.
Last Sunday’s Panorama semifinals ran well and finished just before 11:30pm with results announced a short while later. Yes, the organisation did well and I said so to the President but I did ask: Will it get the same result with 20 bands starting at 7pm?
Is Pan Trinbago truly committed to reforming the Panorama product to meet market demands?
In the context of the ongoing debate over the collapse of the calypso tents, I would like to adopt the comment of one of the best-grounded practitioners and learned teachers in the field of creative arts. He stated firmly, in a widely distributed email exchange, that sub-standard entertainment offered in the calypso tent as an enterprise, is not sustainable.
“Given the industry that Carnival is purported to be, tents and other shows need to be weaned off government support and become, as they once were, market-competitive.”
As I have repeatedly advocated in these columns over the years, provided the Panorama product is reformed, there is a case for limited Government support because of the unique nature of the indigenous musical instrument. However, Government financial support without checks and balances, and—most importantly—quality control only serves to undermine the advancement of the more innovative and proficient pan practitioners.
Far too much time has been lost in creating policy initiatives to assist steel orchestras to reap the potentially rich foreign exchange earnings for quality performances here and abroad, including the vast Indian sub-continent, where the renown of Brian Lara is an immediate drawing card.
Awakening the interest of even a minute percentage of that vast population will bring reward, particularly bearing in mind that our steel orchestras can execute some Bollywood music.
Meanwhile, ah doh business with the latest perversion of the Constitution surrounding the appointment of the Commissioner of Police, beyond my statements published in last Wednesday’s edition of the Trinidad Express newspaper.
This new crisis highlights the importance of the advice I presumed respectfully to give the President-elect, in a recent column, to make appointments without yielding to the traditional pressures of class and contact and family and batch membership.