Carnival committee looking forward to ‘less issues’ in 2012

Opening of Carnival will once again be held at the Point Seraphine Complex. As John Joseph, Chairman of the Carnival Stakeholders Committee made the announcement puzzled glances shot about the room from persons likely wondering why the Carnival/ Jazz opening saga seemed warped, to say the least. A Jazz Opening at Pointe Seraphine wouldn’t have been farfetched, in the same way hosting the Opening of Carnival, a Soca party event at Mindoo Phillip Park seemed the logical thing to do. Certainly that wasn’t the case this year.
One of the first activities to mark the carnival season was Line Jam, held on Monday, May 28 in Castries. Tuesday, May 29 marked the press launch of carnival festivities in the Cultural Development Board room.
At Tuesday’s conference Mac Stephen Aubertin, chairman of the Cultural Development Foundation’s Board of Directors subcommittee, specifically responsible for overseeing carnival represented CDF Chairman Petrus Compton.                 Reading from a speech prepared by the CDF chairman, Aubertin spoke of changes in the team responsible for planning out and producing carnival.
On behalf of the CDF chairman, Aubertine welcomed the Cabinet approved committee consisting of principal stakeholders in carnival and said the development “set the stage for a true collaboration and conflict-free process between the Foundation and Committee.”
“CDF wishes to make it clear, therefore, that the CDF is not the body responsible for the planning and production of Carnival 2012,” the chairman had pointed out.         “CDF is a part of the planning and production team, and an important part, given its history, institutional strength and experience, but responsibility for decision making and execution of decisions rests with the Committee.”
In spite of that, Compton said the Foundation would continue to provide leadership in respect of the developmental aspects of carnival generally.
“New ideas for cultural activities based around carnival will continue to be developed and the training of persons in the arts connected to carnival will be developed even further,” he said. “CDF will continue to focus on shaping the overall development of the artistic, cultural and social dimensions of the carnival phenomenon, thereby ensuring that our carnival activities will continue to grow stronger, be more diversified and embrace more of our people. CDF will pay special attention to working with communities outside Castries to help them develop their carnival activities and strengthen their capacity to design, plan and produce high quality activities, which will have a positive impact on economic activity in these areas.”
Compton’s sentiments were that carnival should be “as conflict-free as possible” and he said the CDF had made available to the Committee the services of its Marketing Officer, who, under the guidance and instructions of the Chairman, John Joseph, would liaise with the media with regards to developments pertaining to Carnival 2012.
“CDF believes that this arrangement will conduce to a carnival free of friction and rancor and begin paving the way towards the creation of a Carnival or Festivals Commission, consistent with Government’s stated desire,” Compton concluded, before those actually present at the conference opened the session to questions from the media.
A wide range of activities will unfold starting with the Opening of Carnival on Sunday, June 3 to the final parade day on July 17 . Was a month and a half really enough time to expertly pull off a successful carnival?
“I don’t think there’s ever enough time,” John Joseph admitted. “We would have preferred to have more time. Under the circumstances we will make it happen as we normally do. I think the biggest asset we have is the capacity of CDF and the capacity of the stakeholders committee. If we work together as we intend to I don’t think we will have major issues. We have spent the last few days tidying up the budget, we reviewed last year’s operations and we are going to present a detailed budget to the CDF Board and the Minister of Creative Industries.”
Joseph touched on some of the changes to come this years, regarding logistics and route: “We learnt quite a bit from last year’s experience and there are areas we have to work at improving,” he said. “The route being one of them—to try to deal with the congestion in the city and also to allow revelers more time for the activity. The logistics of the shows we learned quite a lot from that as well, including the location of the Monday and Tuesday parade. We are working on improving those areas.”
Was there any hope for a return of the Caribbean Soca Monarch Competition this year?
“I don’t think we have seen plans for the return of that this year,” Joseph responded. “The timing at which we’re getting involved that might be quite a hurdle. It would require a lot more time to bring it back to the level that it got to be.”
The newly implemented Carnival Stakeholders Committee consists of two representatives from the Cultural Development Foundation, two from the St Lucia Carnival Bands Association, two from the St Lucia Calypso Association, Two from the St Lucia Steel Bands Association, one from the Ministry of Finance, one from the private sector, one from the Ministry of Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, a representative from the Royal St Lucia Police Force, Castries City Council, Southern Carnival Committee and two persons from the Tourist Board and Community carnivals, specifically
from the south. The
planning and production committees work “in tandem” according to committee representatives.
“We are working to make sure we learn from last year,” Joseph said as the press conference winded down.                         “We’re looking forward to producing an event where we can advance all the art forms in carnival and produce a better spectacle than last year and move forward. We trust that this year we’ll have less issues. We had our share last year and I think we all learnt from that. We’re looking forward to producing an enjoyable carnival.”

Carnival Committee briefs media on the way forward for Carnival 2012.

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