Observing the deluge of exciting artistic moveable feasts which have spontaneously erupted on the TT landscape with the opening up of the country after two years of COVID – 19 repression, one is forced to surmise whether the authorities are really abreast with the real benefits gained from what seems to be a super wealth- generating entertainment industry called Trinidad Carnival.
Under the polite, quiet cover of the creative accounting which all businesses engage in to successfully Drink water and mind their business (Patrice Roberts),
it must be a very arduous task for any government administration to untangle the complex web of weaves, twists and locks that smoothly move along with the numerous beads, breasts and bumpers to the beat of steel and brass.
This is amidst the glittered costumes of masqueraders who can squeeze your outtah place poking head in the tight, hot vice of their collective wine and jam, if they find you’re getting in their way on Carnival Day.
How much more difficult the job has now a become with the emergence of the large number of Carnival-type events since COVID – 19 is well reflected in objective evidence such as
- the lavish media spends,
- identified sponsors,
- the publicised costs of Carnival costumes,
- Competition Prize Money, and
- Publication of government expenditure through its various agencies such as the National Carnival Commission and support for other bodies such as grants for Pan Trinbago.
And yet, despite reports of hundreds of millions being spent, the key principle upon which success is measured seems to be rooted more in the core passion of the artist, rather than the businessman looking to make big bucks at the expense of his players.
In a Trinidad Guardian story on April 7, 2012, Dean Ackin of Tribe tried to explain what fires this band’s outstanding performances.
“Like almost every success story you hear in business, the spark came from an inspired individual or group with an idea they thought was great. But those being sought for support, especially in the area of finance, could not relate to that vision. As a consequence, the visionaries were turned down. That was the experience of mas band Tribe with its team-though a bit inexperienced but with no end to their ambition-back in 1995”,
But eight years on, The mastermind behind Tribe still wants it to be known that success hinged on fate.
“When we launched in 2005, we launched a brand…not a band. Bands come and go. Brands come to stay. Brands go through challenges and changes, but brands are built in such a way that they can face their competition head on and survive,” Ackin said.
“Tribe has faced new competition every single year since its inception in 2005, and eight years later we are still making the front page of a national newspaper on Ash Wednesday”, he pointed out.
The importance of Carnival on many fronts was acknowledged by TT Tourism Minister Senator Randall Mitchell in October 2021 during the 2022 Budget Debate.
According to the Minister: “There is the possibility of ‘packaging and marketing as a festival, the number of band launches that occur during the period into a band launch season occurring over the space of two weekends which, as we know a band launch takes the form of a model runway, with costume designs, models and designers during a premium fete”.
Mitchell had announced the series of initiatives in the context of hoping to make this country a destination of choice post the COVID-19 pandemic including a festival of fetes carded for the end of August
The Tribe Culture has so influenced some social observers that Dennise Demming was moved to express the opinion in on May 22, 2022 that
T&T needs leaders with grit and imagination.
She also frankly wondered aloud:
What if Tribe ran the country?
Current Public Utilities Minister Pennelope Beckles played an active role in promoting Tribe from her position as a diplomat in the USA a couple years ago.
She organized an arrangement where a number of diplomats in her area came together to play in a section in Tribe as a way of showing international unity in the Mas.
ACSAEC. the organization for “Promoting the sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean”, has pointed out in an article on July 2014 titled Carnival: When Culture Attracts Tourism that:
“One of the most unifying events and cultural and creative extravaganza, which is celebrated in the region is Carnival. Carnival finds its social and historic origin in the region and is an expression of culture that encapsulates music, dance, costumes, pageantry and performance. While Carnival is celebrated in various styles and with slightly different names throughout the Greater Caribbean, there is one common interest: the manifestation of a cultural pluralism amongst its participants”.
The ACSAE continued:
“For many of the countries, particularly Trinidad and Tobago, which boasts the Region’s largest Carnival celebration, Carnival or ‘Mas,’ as this festival is commonly referred to, is intertwined into the very fabric of the society and is considered one of the most important cultural exports.
However, much needs to be done to recognize Carnival not just as a social event but as an important economic activity”.
So while masqueraders and spectators keep jumping up for fun and show-it-all in the streets on Carnival Day, some key leaders like Dean Ackin see this as a very serious affair that goes way beyond just making money.
As he said to the Guardian:
“Fun aside, this says something about the relevance of our brand in Carnival and more importantly, about the contribution our brand has made in Trinidad Carnival”.
It was therefore for this very good reason that, quite outside the kind of reckless mood that tends to pervade during The Greatest Show on Earth, a very sober and serious patriot stated as far back as 10 years ago:
“Tribe was not to be a Carnival band; it was to be the ultimate Carnival experience.”
This looks like something from which planners can take comfort – with full assurance that the Trinidad Carnival will not only grow bigger and better, but will also contribute in an accruing manner to the national development and the positive future of Trinidad and Tobago