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Daly Bread: Sing de chorus; why Tourism Minister should get out more and T&T needs What’s On app

By the time of publication, Sing de Chorus would have completed eight performances—including a morning show for students at a discounted price.

Sing de Chorus is a calypso musical written by Rawle Gibbons. It is the first part of his trilogy of calypso musicals tracing the history of calypso from the 1930’s to modern times. Every one I know, who has seen it, enjoyed it.

Although stage plays and concerts are not regularly reviewed, happily this production was reviewed two days ago in the Trinidad Express. There remains a 6pm show this evening at Central Bank Auditorium and it plays at the Naparima Bowl for two nights next weekend (Friday and Sunday) and the weekend following that in Tobago.

Photo: Triumphant Dame Lorraine In a Row in “Sing De Chorus”.
(Copyright Maria Nunes/Lloyd Best Institute)

This production is another example of our artistic riches and also compelling evidence that any tourism plan for Trinidad must have entertainment and culture at its heart. It is insufficient to treat this tourism product as merely adjunct to the promotion of Trinidad as a meeting, conference and exhibition centre. There are many persons who are interested in exploring authentic, indigenous culture who are not on the tax deductible conference circuit.

I suspect that part of the problem in getting the Ministers and their satellites to appreciate the full force of our tourism and entertainment product is that many of them do not know what is available every weekend in Port-of-Spain and other locations.

Many of them in the past also did not seem able to find out what is on, purchase a ticket and attend. There is a whole protocol—euphemism for bad habit—that persons high in public life must receive an invitation from the show promoter and be permitted to bring additional persons, sometimes in the form of an entourage.  On top of that, certain personages expect to be “received”.

Once you have that kind of disconnect between those with the power to assist in propelling the entertainment and cultural product forward and the producers constantly struggling to meet their overheads, officialdom will continue to have a restricted view of our cultural riches.

Mind you, the problem of not knowing what is on, weekend after weekend, is not only a function of a lack of reviews. It is also a function of a lack of a comprehensive What’s On information vehicle. I understand that the Ministry of Culture is resourcefully working on an app for this purpose. That will be a good investment but there should also be a What’s On website.

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 challenge is to get out and see the already trained talented performers and to get them into higher profile paying engagements. Exposure in those engagements will lead to tours abroad.

It is not helpful to have performers selected by Ministries or by any other form of political agency. The communities and groups are already making the discoveries of talent for us—based on meritorious performance—and are purposefully directing the performers to make best use of their talent. Carib Dance under Andre Largen and Coco Dance are good examples of this.

Every month, I hear of new ideas for developing literature and the performing arts.  I recently became associated with a group able to develop literary tourism, which will feed into the success of the Bocas Lit Fest as well as all of the other entertainment and cultural material that is available.

The success of the Bocas Lit Fest is an ideal platform for a bigger festival, not inextricably linked to Carnival. Likewise, the Film and certain dance Festivals.

At long last, we are detaching Trinidad from the pursuit of sun, sand and sea tourism for which we do not have competitive resources. Trinidad has an artistic infrastructure ready to become a core market for entertainment and cultural tourism. Sadly, there is access only to ad hoc funding assistance in the absence of a defined funding policy.

Photo: Calypsonians give their take of the Country Club Scandal during the “Sing De Chorus” show.
(Copyright Maria Nunes/Lloyd Best Institute)

I suggest to the Tourism Minister that he dives deeply into the entertainment and cultural sector himself. Lime plenty in those sectors. Go directly to the persons in those sectors without the blinkers of bureaucratic screening.

You will have a pleasant surprise and will begin to sing de chorus with us.

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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