PORT-OF-SPAIN – Freshly-distributed certificates of participation to mas bandleaders and designers of Carnival 2013 were shredded and burned outside the VIP section of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Members of the mas fraternity were protesting reduced prize money, a lack of ceremony and, in some cases, the receipt of a certificate instead of a trophy.
In the past, Carnival winners attended a prize-giving function where they were handed trophies and cheques.
This year, however, members at yesterday’s simple handover said they were called by the National Carnival Bands Association and asked to come to the VIP room over three days, starting yesterday and going to tomorrow, to collect their cheques and certificates of participation.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association chairman, Gerard Weekes, yesterday arrived even as the burning was taking place, and described his shock over the unfolding situation.
He said the mas fraternity was “fed up” with the continued disrespect displayed by both the NCBA and the National Carnival Commission.
He said the fraternity was also up in arms over the reduced prize money and the NCBA’s failure to honour appearance fees and transport costs for the performers.
“It is almost as if this is the only language the powers that be understand,” Weekes said.
“Why is it that it has to come to the stage of burning certificates, then more protests in the streets to get someone like (NCC chairman) Allison Demas to get off their chair and get things done?”
Weekes, who is the co-winner of the King of Carnival title, said not all members of the mas fraternity had been treated fairly.
Short on trust
“Before Carnival, you heard the Minister (of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr. Lincoln Douglas) say that the prize money was increased, then it was retracted, now we have that the prize money is short because of a lack of funds. How does the NCC expect the mas fraternity to trust that they could get Carnival 2014 right, when there are no incentives for the same mas men and women to participate going forward?” he said.
Weekes said he attended the prize-giving ceremony in Arima and saw that regional Carnival was better treated.
“Here we have Port of Spain, the Mecca of Carnival, and this is how the winners are being treated? If they want to put more emphasis on regional Carnival, then say that and let everybody go home; but let us know where we stand because we have Arima getting trophies, Downtown getting trophies, and Port of Spain winners getting certificates?” he asked.
“What we really want the authorities to know is that we are really trying to keep the bacchanal for Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Let’s not have bacchanal the whole year through to get Carnival right because the members are agitating and this is evidence of that.”
NCBA president David Lopez and Demas could not be reached for comment yesterday. (Express)