Michael Joseph - PRO of Pan Trinbago
Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Pan Trinbago Inc. T.C. is a social and cultural body, incorporated by an act of Parliament, Act 5 of 1986 that clearly states its role and function which is further enhanced by cabinet minute no. 2007 of August 7, 1997 - Arrangements for Carnival 1998 and beyond.
Suddenly, in 2017 leading up to the national festival which is Carnival, where the organization produces the national Panorama competition as is the custom, to be a major part of the Carnival, the government of the day through the Ministry of Community Development Culture and the Arts, and the National Carnival Commission (NCC), is hell bent on usurping the role of Pan Trinbago and the two other major interest groups in the national festival and the authority given to them by the acts and the cabinet note of 1998.
Pan Trinbago views this as an infringement of the right to enjoy the fullness of our heritage instrument that was carved out through blood, sweat and tears by our pioneers who suffered humiliation and disrespect by the very society who labelled them rouges and vagabonds and outcasts. Today, after long and continuous struggles and sacrifices to develop this, our indigenous art form, and bring the entertainment and the performance aspect of the industry to an established level of acceptance, whilst we continue to aggressively pursue the production and manufacturing lines of a product that we have nurtured and developed from nothing to a potential billion dollar industry.
Suddenly, to them, we are unable to manage anything, and a forensic audit will be done on Pan Trinbago after the Carnival. We are not averse to any audit. However, for the past twenty years, Pan Trinbago has been providing our members and the line ministry including the National Carnival Commission with an audited statement which shows the state of our finances. Unlike the NCC, who have not had a financial audit into its accounts since 2004, and is in debt of over two hundred million dollars (TTD).
It is quite clear to us that an alarm bell went off when Pan Trinbago embarked on the road to self-sufficiency by establishing a steel drum factory, and hosting an international conference and Panorama with a view to globalization of the Steelpan industry. The Steelpan fraternity has played its part in the liberation of the minds of the grass roots decades ago and today is still contributing to youth development, thereby holding the fabric of our society together, where crime and decadence seem to be the order of the day.
We are viewing the move by the Ministry and the NCC, as a hostile takeover of the Carnival interest groups. After the sacrifice we have made throughout the years to make this industry the billion dollar product that it has become, the powers that be, without any form of consultation with the Carnival stakeholders, is moving posthaste to upstage and restructure the people's culture.
The bottom line is he who pays the piper calls the tune and today Mardi Gras is taking back the space that Canboulay has carved out for itself. But, this thing is much bigger than what meets the eye. The Calypso, the Mas and the Steelpan is a Spiritual thing to the practitioners. The culture of a people is sacrosanct and should not be taken for granted.
Money, as mighty as it is, is of little significance when it comes to a people's spirituality and cultural expression. In light of this, we are appealing to you and your organization to stand with us and lend support as we face the tyrannical approach of the government to politically interfere in the way we express our cultural art form, for which they lack a deeper understanding.
This could have an adverse effect on our society for years to come. The business class could never understand that the culture of the grass roots is not all about profit and loss. It's more about soul expression - an expression of freedom. We know that you are an integral part of this experience, and would not stand divorced from our present predicament. Thanks in advance for your timely intervention to avert an unnecessary and volatile situation.
In defense of our cultural heritage.
Michael L. Joseph
PUBLIC Relations Officer
Pan Trinbago Inc. T.C.
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