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Daly Bread: Breaking useless moulds and transforming Carnival

I congratulate the Minister of Tourism, Randall Mitchell MP, for his reported admission that Carnival has failed as a tourism product. In 2015, I had already described “the acceleration of the decline of Carnival into a minority sport”.

Only last week I complained again that our rich and varied musical talent and its committed leadership is pushing back against the grip of gang and violent crime on our youths, but is doing so without the assistance of a cultural and tourism development policy not riddled with obsessive political control. This talent is simply not getting the exposure it deserves as it develops new entertainment products.

Photo: A Skiffle pannist enjoys her performance.
(Copyright Sbc.edu)

According to the report, Minister Mitchell said that over the last ten years more than TT$500 million (approximately US$75 million) was spent on promoting Carnival but Trinidad and Tobago failed to get a significant return in terms of its investment.

Do the Ministers and their satellites truly understand why Carnival has lost more than a quarter of its overseas visitors—and, by estimate, three quarters of domestic spectators?

Do they think you can market a gridlocked, unartistic parade and its preceding events marked by mediocrity delivered in endurance tests of six and more hours and at which free passes near equal paying spectators?

Moreover, what comprises “promotion” expenses? The $500 million probably does not include the many millions dished out in meeting the expenses of Panorama and other poorly run calypso and mas’ events.

This acknowledgement of failure follows closely the decision to terminate refining operations at State owned Petrotrin, another disastrous commercial failure, and threats of more downsizing of enterprises and events that we cannot afford to featherbed any longer.

Photo: (From left) Culture Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell open a homework centre in Carenage.
(Copyright Ministry of Housing)

The drain of these unsustainable enterprises, mediocre events and wastrel ways of life are moving to compel us to a belated understanding that we have been doing the same thing for far too long, without success and without any thought of managed adjustments.

Many plainly see that much of what we have been doing is not working. Closing our minds, eyes and mouths to the “same ole same ole” has set us back and prejudiced the future of the young. This is probably the time to strip away everything that is obstructing us from seeing more objectively the real causes of the current pain and apprehension.

In order to move toward the breaking of the useless moulds there are some fundamental precursor actions, which are required to move us from fruitless, stagnating conditions to the progressive ones, which we need for survival.

In politics, we need to eliminate the race and class baiting that have accompanied the the personal insults, blame game and theatrics. All of these negative practices will be on display during the current Budget debate 2018.

We also need to drop the 19th century rhetoric with which our industrial relations are tainted by the utterances of both capital and labour.

Photo: OWTU president Ancel Roget (right) and his comrades have vowed to respond to the government’s intention to shut down the Petrotrin refinery.
(Copyright Industriallunion.org)

I raise these communication impediments because experts in managing change tell me that change cannot take place or be managed without respectful, open and forward-looking communication, dedicated to persuade the disenchanted to buy into a different way of doing things.

Without this we will be unable to incorporate citizens into the new reality that came with a sustained multi billion drop in the country’s revenue, preceded by failed mega projects, partisan political giveaways and waste.

Positive change is already on the ground. Thank you Gabriela Bernard for your steps towards breaking imposed moulds, which are highly destructive of self esteem.

As for the Carnival product there are gaping holes in it. The mould breaking talent, which I have described, can immediately fill them by events put on at reasonable times in the course of the build up.

We should be moving towards expanding the Carnival brand into a ‘First Quarter Festival’, during which we offer various travel and entertainment packages with different price points prior the more expensive Carnival weekend package.

Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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