An impressive number of bands had already held events to launch their themes for carnival this year, even before last month’s Jazz festival. The annual Piton Soca Starz got underway in April, traversing various parts of the island. Several carnival songs have also been released, some by the major names including TJ, Mongstar, Superman HD, Ricky T, Alpha, Q-pid, Nicole David and others.
Two weeks ago a number of calypso tents made their 2013 debut at the National Cultural Center. Still, the cry on the streets and on some talk shows has been: “I am not feeling the carnival spirit yet!” Or “Something seems to be missing this year.” But what is that spirit that’s missing? And is this cry an over-reaction? Is it too early to judge? After all, carnival time is really from June to July!
Yesterday morning the Select Committee of Stakeholders for Carnival hosted a media launch for “Lucian Carnival” at the Palm Haven Hotel to allay fears that preparations for this years event were in any disarray, and to unveil plans that will culminate on July 15 and 16. But with a theme of “collaboration” seeping through the less-than-decorative room, the absence of Carnival Bands Association representatives was as conspicuous as Akon’s lip syncing at Pigeon Point.
An earlier decision by the Stakeholders Committee not to host the annual carnival-opening did not go down well with some entities, particularly the Carnival Bands Association. At the eleventh hour the CBA took a decision to host the event in collaboration with NG Soca Stage. This carnival opening is expected to take place Sunday, June 9 at Samaans Park.
Speaking to some members of the CBA yesterday, none would concede that their absence at the earlier event amounted to a boycott.
Undaunted, the MC at Tuesday’s proceeding, “select committee” member Caron Tobierre greeted her audience with much alacrity. She said the committee had been working quietly behind the scenes for many months now, in preparation for carnival 2013.
“Today we are here to officially begin the season which in some ways has already started. We know that there have already been band launches and other activities in relation to Lucian carnival. We are very happy that this year the committee is back in the coordinating, executing and planning of Lucian carnival.”
Committee chairperson John Joseph said: “We start carnival 2013 in an environment that is challenging to all of us. So, going into this year’s carnival we see some recurring themes, the main one being change. Another is collaboration, and adaptation, because as we face difficult challenges we try to do the best we can with the resources we have. For 2013 it is really a pleasure to see collaborations between calypso tents, bands and calypso and we are really happy to see that type of theme.”
Joseph said his committee is looking forward to a very successful event put on by the CBA and NG Soca Stage on Sunday. Other major changes for this year’s carnival will be the merging of the Groovy and Power Soca Monarch competitions and the King and Queen of the bands as a stand-alone event. He applauded main sponsors Piton and Bounty as well as platinum sponsor Digicel “for sticking with carnival and bringing to the event a wealth of expertise.
Brand Manager for Piton Beer Rohan Lovence said Tuesday that as the official beer for carnival, Piton Beer has risen to the profile of the beer of the people. “As most of you know that’s what we portray every year, being one with the people,” Lovence stated. Alluding to the popular Piton Soca Starz he noted that the brand started carnival before Jazz and always tried to display its innovation during events. “JJ spoke about risk and change and so on, but it is something we call innovation at WLBL. Lots of times persons think change is risk, but it’s the only way we can move forward and so I am excited about the fact that we are embracing change, I welcome it and I am looking forward to a very unique and exciting product this year,” he ended by saying.
Tony Polius is the Brand Manager for Bounty Rum who on behalf of his company St Lucia Distillers thanked the committee for affording them another carnival partnership. “Our company is quite happy to be working with the stakeholders committee, happy to partner as the official rum and we are looking forward to a good season this year,” Polius said.
Platinum sponsor Digicel was represented Tuesday by Marketing Manager Kerchelle Jn Charles. “As we get ready for Saint Lucia carnival, we as the bigger, better network Digicel, are again very proud to show our full support and commitment as platinum sponsor. Carnival represents the very core of our people and at Digicel we believe in the people,” Jn Charles said. Noting that their involvement with carnival was extensive she went on to highlight some of their partnerships which included sponsoring a junior band, three of the big carnival bands, two major fetes and the collaboration between Take Over Tent and Soca Village. Jn Charles also announced Tuesday, that this year Digicel had endorsed Soca artiste Ricky T. The company also made their check presentation to the stakeholders committee which amounts to EC$150,000.
A brand new carnival song and jingle “Welcome to Saint Lucia Carnival,” produced by Dutch Productions and performed by Marianne and Ricky T was also unveiled at the media launch.
As the final speaker Tuesday, Tourism and Creative Industries Minister Lorne Theophilus pointed out that the journey being embarked on was one that started years ago. “It is a journey which as JJ, as Caron, as some of our sponsors have indicated, cannot be a success without collaborations. So the theme of collaborations is one that is going to underscore not just this carnival, but is also going to underscore the future of carnival in Saint Lucia,” the Minister indicated. “This year more than ever, collaborations are important. We know that we have gone through an extremely rough time and the Government of Saint Lucia has come on board and determined among other things that Saint Lucia’s carnival will not suffer the budget cuts like other ministries. So this year, whilst we did not get the increases that we would like to see we were given the same budget that we were given last year,” he further explained. According to the Tourism Minister, for those people who would love to see Saint Lucia Carnival
brought to the level of the Jazz festival they need to first realize that it is an entirely different event.
“But, when we collaborate, we can make Saint Lucia Carnival as big as Jazz, bigger than Jazz. But, we have to come out, we have to support Lucian carnival,” he stressed.
The Government’s spend on Carnival this year is expected to be about EC$3 million.
Following the main event John Joseph emphasized to the STAR that the committee is fully behind the CBA and urged Saint Lucians to come out in large numbers to support this Sunday’s carnival launch. He also lamented the late appointment of the committee by Cabinet and said that a more permanent arrangement would be best. “It would be ideal to have a permanent structure but I am not the policy maker,” John Joseph told the STAR.