By MICHAEL SCOBIE JOSEPH, cultural activist
It is sad to see how some people are doing all in their power to divide and fragment the steel band movement, and how the uninformed and ignorant are falling hook line and sinker into their sinister plot. The claim by the Pannist for a player’s remittance is not being channeled through the right source, and therefore would have no validity. All claims for players remittance must come through the leaders or managers of the Steel bands. The players are not a separate and independent entity and are not the most important part of the Steel band. As I said before, no part of an egg is more important than the other. It is one complete unit. Some selfish people may disagree all they want, but it changes nothing.
The Steel band leaders are the ones responsible for the pannist, who are obligated to the band, whose leaders should look after their best interests. As a matter of fact, no player ever requested an incentive for their performance at the National Festival. It was an initiative of Pan Trinbago through the persistence of it’s long standing secretary for an across the board position. Bee Wee had honored a request to incentivised the players of the Panorama finalists bands with two hundred dollars. Those who are now clamoring and making the most noise for an incentive, are the ones who have displayed a kind of greed and selfish behavior that brought about this stalemate. There are justifiable reasons why the players must be incentivized through the Steel bands.
All these so-called crack shot players came to a panyard at some point and time not knowing how to even hold a pan stick. They were welcomed, assigned to an expensive Steelpan instrument, taught how to wrap a Pan stick and painstakingly taught how to play the instrument, in a safe and secured environment with basic facilities that they contributed nothing to its maintenance. Most of them still don’t own an instrument, and still depend on the leaders to provide the facilities, and teach them the music, and provide all other amenities for them to get to a Panorama. So what make them greater than anyone else in the scheme of things? We must all work together to overcome our present predicament. Once the players see themselves as prima donnas this will create a whole paradigm shift that will see the death of our involvement in Panorama / Carnival for community Steel bands.
All participants in our National festivities should be compensated because their contributions are valuable to its success. If the powers that be, fail to properly market our national cultural festival, and capitalize on the foreign exchange that is possible. Then shame on them, for wasting the efforts, energies and time, that we the cultural practitioners expend to give them and the country the opportunity to benefit from such a venture. The creativity in our indigenous art form, must not be sacrificed on the altar of vulgarity, which seems to be the order of the day. Our steel bands are the vehicles that make our Festival the most unique in the entire world.
The government must invest money in order to make money, so that we all can be reasonably compensated. Talk with us to find the solutions for your lack of financial support. This is not a one man show. Steel band is an expensive creation and, like all sporting and cultural organizations across the world, needs sponsorship for their existence and survival. Stop pulling down our creativity and look closer to see the aesthetic value it adds to society as a whole.