By Val Henry, MyVueNews:
Basseterre, St. Kitts, 9h February, 2018, (MyVueNews.com) – The Carnival Committee of St. Kitts and Nevis, used the opportunity of a town hall meeting on Wednesday, 7th February, 2018, to, not only highlight some of its achievements over the past three years, but to also provide a glimpse into 2018/2019.
The forum was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Shawn Richards, and included presentations from the current Chairman, Noah Mills and a young promoter of a carnival fringe activity, Brandon Cranstoun.
In his brief remarks, Richards, who is also the minister responsible for the carnival celebrations, touted some of the successes of the annual festival and appealed to the corporate sector to increase its financial support, recognizing that they are important strategic partners in the undertaking.
Chairman Mills outlined what he said were the major pillars of what he termed were three years of remarkable growth in various areas of the carnival. These included, he said, the increase in crowd attendance at the main shows and competitions, improved financial returns at the gate, higher levels of sponsor support and a revitalization of the Junior or Children’s Carnival.
Pointing to a stack of folders, Mills made it clear that one other hallmark of his leadership has been “transparency”. The folders he contended, were all the financial reports from 2015, to the last date of reporting for the festival. These he said were brought to the meeting for the media and any member of the public to scrutinize.
Some in the audience commended him and his committee for being the first administration to “open its books” to the public.
According to Mills, they also assisted tremendously in the enhancement of the folklore, working with the Department of Culture. Calypso Tents, steel bands, carnival troupes, Road March winners, soca artistes and Junior Calypsonians, all benefited from increased support from the committee, since 2015.
But when challenged about the lack of live radio commentary for the various shows and competitions last carnival, he defended his team’s decision by arguing that the carnival product has to be protected and media organizations that are interested in facilitating live coverage ought to enter into a business relationship with the committee, to access the rights for broadcast.
He said that it would be unfair for media houses to make advertising revenues from the shows, while his committee struggles to cover its costs and receives no revenue from the commercial income that stations would obtain from their broadcast.
His position on the matter was strongly supported by the Culture Minister, who argued that the public should not make demands for a more enhanced carnival product, while at the same time, having expectations that it should continue to allow its product to be used for profit, none of which, makes its way to the coffers of the committee.
He too indicated that no longer can there be free access to the broadcast of the show.
Covering another controversial subject that made headlines last carnival, the minister urged revelers for J’ouvert Morning to adopt new habits to hit the road much earlier, because it may become the new norm that the event will continue to end at 10;00am rather than the traditional 12:00pm.
The 4:00am start to the early morning jam said Richards ought to be taken advantage of and that members of the public should put more emphasis with their band organizers, on the pre-J’ouvert parties, to gain greater satisfaction.
The security forces he explained were concerned over the high numbers of arrests that had to be made on J’ouvert and that it is such developments that help to determine the security actions taken to end the jam session much earlier than usual.
The town hall meeting was held at the conference room of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and was hosted by Val Henry of VhCommunications, and carried live on ZIZ radio and streamed via various social media platforms.
Also in attendance were senior members of the Carnival Committee, including Deputy Chairman, Lester Hanley, Sub-Committee Chairpersons, calypsonians, organizers of fringe activities, the media and other members of the public who are interested in the advancement of the carnival.