New York, U.S.A. - Enough is enough. New York Steel Orchestras have finally, it seems, decided to stand up for themselves - at least at the time of this piece. Ten steel orchestras participated in the 2016 steelband Panorama organized and hosted by W.I.A.D.C.A. (West Indian American Day Carnival Association). The three top-placing bands: the champions D’Radoes, Pan Evolution and CrossFire have only been given half of their respective prize monies, but never received the second portion. The prize amounts were USD $20,000.00, $15,000.00 and $10,000.00, respectively.
Martin Douglas, the President of USSA (United States Steelband Association) told When Steel Talks (WST) that the bands’ representatives were assembled at the offices of W.I.A.D.C.A. in Brooklyn, New York, for the ‘pulling of numbers’ for the order of appearance tonight, Monday August 21. However, Douglas says, because of the outstanding prize money still owed to the bands, there was a decision not to do so. Everyone walked out. “All the bands had representatives there, and it was a unanimous decision to not pull numbers for this year’s competition, when we still have not been paid for last year.”
Personnel of D’Radoes, Pan Evolution, CrossFire, Despers USA, CASYM, ADLIB, Philadelphia Pan Stars and Harmony - all of whom competed last year, were present. Joining them were Metro-Pantonic and one additional band, from St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.—Wess Stars—making ten participants in total for the 2017 New York Panorama on September 2 - if it comes off.
William R. Howard, president of WIADCA
The USSA President also said that last year, each band got a $4,500.00 appearance fee, but for 2017, only $2,250.00 was allocated. Additionally, Douglas, says “I have been calling the president of WIADCA, William Howard, constantly, but he is not returning any of my calls.” Which makes one ponder - what is really going on? WIADCA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017, and ironically, this organization has been disrespecting Pan for decades.
Outside Despers USA’s pan yard, NYPD talks to the woman who calls them to have the orchestra prevented from rehearsing and shut down
Meanwhile, the bands have been practicing, not without their own challenges. One such, Despers USA, has been posting on social media, and live streaming on Facebook, that they have been “terrorized” by a female “gentrifier” (one who is ‘new’ to the area), Kathleen Reilly, who calls the NYPD (New York Police Department) on them - every night - in an effort to get the band shut down while they rehearse, and records them on her phone/tablet at the same time. Every year, steel orchestras face challenges in completing practice, in an effort to get to the stage of the Panorama competition hosted by WIADCA. And almost every year, there have been major problems with the paying out of prize monies to the bands.
So - who is responsible for the finances at WIADCA, and can explain why bands have not been paid for the 2016 competition, with the 2017 event less than two weeks away? What did they do with the money from 2016? Where is the bands’ money that is owed?
So - the disrespect for the steelband art form, community, and most importantly, the youth - continues...
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