“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
– Philippians 4:8
This week, because of this year’s impact of my experience of the recently completed Trinidad and Tobago carnival, albeit primarily through the electronic media, I would like to shift gears for a week and join forces with those who recognize the importance of taking Action by aggressively implementing the Vision of the Carnival Opportunity as a major partial solution to the economic growth.
This opportunity may be classified in five categories (1) Musical Poetry – Calypso, Soca and Extempo; (2) Costumes – King, Queen and Bands; (3) Revelry – Fêtes, Shows, Tents, Bands and Panyards; (4) Pan – Making, Teaching, Playing and Performing: and (5) The launch the 21st century instrument, the electronic PHI pan.
In this column, we want to recognize that the Carnival Opportunity is not only the carnival season for a few weeks a year but that its impact and economic contribution may be extended throughout the year in one or more of the above five categories.
(1) Calypso is a West Indian rhythm with words humourously representing a variety of local and international topics on a topical theme and appealing to all levels of society. Soca is an innovative extension of the original calypso which has incorporated certain elements of soul music and now stands on its own as an art form. Extempo, the ability to create calypso commentary “on your feet” requires a special skill. To hear seasoned practitioners in competition is indeed a joy to experience.
(2) The talents of the costume designers seem to know no bounds as every year the creations of the Kings and Queens and individuals in the parade reach another level. These need to be shared with the world through social media and more permanent ways. It is simply amazing.
(3) The revelers enjoy themselves, even though some may argue that it may be overdone but, with good management it will settle to the level that we deserve. Fêtes, Shows, Tents, Bands and Panyards are all open during the carnival season. But why not carefully extend this opportunity throughout the year so that those who may not be able to “come for carnival” would not lose out the impact of the collection of art forms.
(4) The steel pan, originally made out of an oil drum has several notes accommodated in the same vibrating membrane. Now the manufacturing technology is much more advanced. It is the only non acoustic percussion instrument invented in the 20th century and originated in T&T. The history is well documented. What about a museum? There are many opportunities from the pan, include manufacturing, teaching, playing and performing. I remember in 1963 hearing a Trinidad steel orchestra play at the Royal Art Hall in London and when I closed my eyes it could have been a traditional philharmonic orchestra. This is the ultimate experience.
(5) If these advances with the steel pan were not enough, we are now on the verge of the business launch of the 21st century instrument, the electronic Percussive Harmonic Instrument (PHI pan), where the panist can reproduce a limitless range of traditional and non-traditional instrument tones.
These are the opportunities but a public private partnership must now focus on implementing a business model where the five business systems of corporate governance, financial investment, marketing (led by public relations), operational efficiency, productivity and training are well managed.
As we search for new areas of growth for our economies, let us exploit our cultural industries which embody the natural talent and innovation of our people. In particular, let us systematically convert the carnival opportunity into a major global industry.