Trinidad’s most viable tourism event for the year, “The Greatest Show On Earth” , begins in January and End with the Parade of Bands on the streets, the day before Lent. The island becomes the epicenter of cultural diversity hosting a culmination of events for the season which attracts a myriad of economic opportunities for small to large enterprises.
Interestingly, for a destination that celebrates Carnival every year we seem to be plagued by recurrent issues from stakeholders, promoters , monopolies, sea and air bridge , immigration , to name a few. Albeit, all issues that arise are integral components that should influence and shape the development from pre to post activities of our Carnival Tourism Product.
This year, one of the most popular pre-carnival activity ,”Tent” shows, closed it’s doors. Surely, the promoters should have seen this coming for sometime now as they did not re-engineer their product brand to meet with the future demands. Therefore, this situation cannot be blamed on government’s cut in subsidies as argued by some stakeholders of the show. From my own experience , I may have visited a Tent Show about nine years ago. It was a packed hall where patrons were sardine-canned into a hot sweltering room to listen to performances that was poorly stage managed and monotonous. This did not encourage me to continue Tent Shows as a MUST DO calendar event. With that being said, Tent shows are unique to Trinidad and a viable product offering which needs to be revisited.
Another popular pre-activity is the Kings and Queens of Carnival in the Savannah which in my opinion, is the most beautiful spectacle of art, appreciated by a small group of patrons. Having been to Caribana, Toronto I was amazed to witness a full capacity hall of patrons eagerly awaiting to see our own mas designers bring their costumes to life. What I also appreciated was the clean environment, well appointed concession stands and comfortable seating for artistes and patrons to enjoy their evening. I wonder if research work is done to determine why people are not interested in these shows in Trinidad? How can management spur rivalry in competition and ensure that our young artists can participate in new creative portrayals for these competitions?
Pan,our national instrument can be witnessed at pan yards in various communities in Trinidad and Tobago during the season. Due credit must be given to Exodus, for the best pan yard in the country, which allows me the opportunity to question what has Pan Trinbago done over the years to showcase Pan? What have they done to improve the acoustic layout of pan on the stage, the general facilities and cleanliness offered to patrons , concession owners and the performers?
Panorama event has several orchestras of steel drums arranged by musical geniuses that prepare these bands for the big show. For me, it was an absolute joy to witness Renegades Band this year and the intricacies of the musical melody arranged by Stewart. After witnessing what we have as a tourism product, why encourage a fete on the same day of Pan Semis to divert interest from supporting these “panist” who worked night after night to perform for the people/our culture. Perhaps, the Greens Fete may have been a cash cow for Pan Trinbago, but who really benefits and where is the future for pan in this? Nevertheless, I would commend the management for the changes made this year to the show and I hope that they step back and review again , to ensure that there is an improved production and it continues to progress.
Another grand production which has strong significance to our carnival is the Dimache Gras; even the smaller screening competitions that lead up to Carnival Sunday. These productions have carried the same vapid style over the years, poor stage management, certainly not creative or interesting enough to capture a packed audience which again begs the question as to whether there is an interest to improve? These performers are all so talented and the show is culturally rich, but it is not improving to attract the audience.
At this juncture I will reserve my comments on the other popular private stakeholder Fetes, and Events ( Soca Monarch , Soca Chutney Monarch and the Socadrome) – All in the business of carnival. However, I will expatiate specifically on Machel Monday Concert, the impetus for this article.
Machel Montano, one of the most talented soca artiste has been able to produce an annual sold out concert for a few years. I have been to every concert and have seen the strides he has made , obviously learning from international relationships in the music industry. His contribution is significant as he has had the foresight to embrace veterans in the business and future artistes making his show vibrant and interesting. His concert has even spurred on other artistes to host their own concert during the week of Carnival- a viable commercial activity.
Interestingly, it seems that Machel Montano is stepping more and more into the realm of becoming a “talent maker” maintaining our art-form , something that the “Tents” and public authorities should have been doing a long time ago. His trajectory in his professional production and his consciousness to present musical perfection is certainly delivered to a wide cross section at his concert. In my perspective , his concert is an export product, for the region and internationally.
Carnival is our Showtime, if Machel Montano can do it and bring his event to a level of perfection in such a short time , then every activity that is offered that reflects our culture should be produced to perfection to attract various market segments throughout the season- we have all the ingredients to make it right !
Carnival is a business when one consider all the activities which contributes a substantial foreign revenue to the destination. Almost all regional destinations today have adopted our Carnival , using our home grown expertise to develop it as a destination offering. If the authorities work effectively on balancing the scale of bacchanal and business then Carnival in Trinidad will remain the flagship event of the Caribbean.
Author: Lisa Shandilya, MBA.(Specialized), CEM., B.Sc., 20 years Practitioner in the Hospitality and Service Sector, Member of THRTA, International Hospitality and Service Industry .
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