BitDepth 738 - July 06

After a long symposium on Carnival, it remains unclear what's to be done and who should be trying to do it.
This business of Carnival symposia

The panel discussion on “Managing the Music, the Money, the Marketing” was moderated by Wendell Manwarren and included (left to right) Dionne McNicol of TTENT, Fareid Emamali of Traffik and entertainment lawyer Keron James. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

For two days last week, the UTT hosted two days worth of seminars and discussion at NAPA on the subject “This Business of Carnival,” with a third morning set aside for the UTT to discuss its programmes.
It’s possible, it seems, to get so caught up in the importance of what you’re doing and in the grandeur of the space you’re doing it in that you end up doing nothing important at all.

It wasn’t clear what would be happening with the output of two days worth of presentations, discussion and some quite emotional venting on matters related to Carnival. The event was comprehensively recorded to audio and mostly recorded on video, so there’s material waiting to be distributed to the many, many people who did not attend.

And the two days were hardly wasted, even if nobody seemed willing or able to stop circling the subject and offer some kind of considered plan for addressing any of the issues likely to arise at a symposium about Carnival.
Several of the key names expected at the event were notably absent, including Peter Minshall; who until mid-morning on Monday was apparently still expected to arrive to give the keynote speech. Dean Ackin of Tribe and Dane Lewis of Island people blew off the big Mas panel discussion on Tuesday morning, leaving a lone Hart to wave a standard for pretty mas.

Professor Hollis Liverpool opened the talks on Monday with an explanation of how principles of Carnival were applied to management in the Bahamas to create learning opportunities that seemed quite similar to those articulated by Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline.
Professor Kim Johnson shared his collection of archival pan photos in a mini-exhibit in the seminar’s lobby and in an engaging short film, “The audacity of the Creole imagination” which wove together some of his research into the evolution of the steel band movement into a very watchable visual experience.

“Nobody is stealing our pan anymore than we stole their saxophone or piano,” noted Johnson, as he argued that Trinidad and Tobago should be positioning itself as the Graceland, the New Orleans of steelband, the source and axis around which the music should rotate.
In the panel discussion on Tuesday, Dr Brian Copeland noted that steelband’s “top-notch tutors are in the departure lounge with their intellectual property packed in their carryons.”

But as startling and resonant as the issues regarding the steelband were when scholars and practitioners pounded them home, the entire room was silenced by a remarkable story told by advertising practitioner Peta Bain from the floor about a lost opportunity in 2000 during the rebranding exercise of a major foreign oil company operating in Trinidad.
According to Bain, a project to carry steelbands to 100 countries to perform with the native folk groups of each country in a series of concerts worth US$70 million was vetoed by local executives of the company for reasons that remained unclear.

The least surprising item arising at the symposium series was the one that remained unspoken. The question hung in the air, floating between the words and frustration at the prospect of the event becoming one more talk shop in a long series of similar, pointless discussions.

Whose job is it? 
Dionne McNicol, CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Entertainment Company claimed that her organisation doesn’t have the money or the resources to do it, and that’s the company created to facilitate entertainers.
Who turns these issues into a plan of action then? Who takes the step to move from oft articulated problems to that rarest of birds, a solution?
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