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Between 1950 and 2015, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS have been spent SUBSIDIZING STEELBANDS: was this money well spent?

Between Sponsors and Government HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars have been poured into the STEELBAND MOVEMENT over the last 65 years. (Not to mention the millions spent by foreign governments flying these steelbands all around the world.)  Yet, today, THE WORLD GOVERNING BODY OF THE STEELBAND is FIVE MILLION DOLLARS in DEBT and the President is standing CAP IN HAND at the Government's door BEGGING FOR MORE.

One of the most repeated arguments is that STEELBANDS are a deterrent to CRIME. Well, today, CRIME in Trinidad AND TOBAGO is at epidemic proportions -- but many will stick to their guns on that proposition.

The PAN TRINBAGO trick is to promise SELF-SUFFICIENCY over and over again. Because they could only become self-sufficient if you give them MORE MONEY and MORE MONEY.

I am saying MILLIONS but ah sure we done cross BILLIONS!!!

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For a very long time many people have said this organization need leaders with vision.Not leadership that feel everything they need must come from the government, I think it is time the government put its foot down to this eat ah food scrap.They should get matching funds from the government for a couple of years, and then you are on your own. The steel-band/Pan is an up tap revenue source and by extension Carnival.


Lorna: You should come back and post more often. I like your MATCHING FUNDS (for a couple of years) suggestion.

What do we have today to show for all that was spent?

I disagree with the term "subsidizing steelbands ". Funds may have been misspent ,yes , but that suggestion discounts the funds added to the coffers of the nation (via tourism, etc., ) and to the business sector because of steelband activity.

And , besides steelbands should also share in the bounty provided over the years by the island's natural resources.

This partifcular governing body has had several missed opportunities to create revenue because of either their lack of vision or "we don't care because we have government money".  The International Panorama held this year was a perfect opportunity for merchandising etc., none of which took place.  Nothing to commemorate the very first event of its kind and this is only one example.  It appears that except for Panorama, there's very litle business activity taking place to generate revenue.  If this was a private concern, shareholders would have already fired the board of directors and installed individuals with true business acumen.  Lorna's suggestion about matching funds for a couple of years is a very good idea.  It's time we stop throwing away tax payers money.  As we all know, doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of different results is sheer madness.  

Good comment Kathleen Toppin, it's only in the Mecca you would find the Government funding projects without expecting a return, sheer madness is correct.

We certainly should have seen much more for the billion-or-more public and sponsors' dollars expended on steelbands over the past 60 years. While the instrument and standard of 'panmanship' and music have evolved significantly, prpgress has not been in proportion to the price paid.

There are many reasons why pan seems stuck in a time warp in spite of the resources ploughed into it: less than visionary leadership, part-time pan lovers, politicking with pan, no business acumen, the national malaise of the dependency syndrome, etc.

Notwithstanding these impairments, many individual pannists have done well, become professional, and virtually live well off their talents--pannists such as Robbie Greenidge, Boogsie, Liam Teague, Ken Philmore and many more. Also, many stage-bands have done pretty well--Panazz (now defunct), Samaroo family, Codrington family, and so on.

The above adopted business models that worked for them.

Also, many steelbands have transformed their 'yards' into multi-purpose theatres that are safe, serve as schools (academic and musical), sporting and cultural activities.

Conversely, there are bands that squat in degrading conditions and come alive, barely, only for Panorama. There are pannists who still live in the 1950s mode, both physically and mentally. And while Pan Trinbago has done a lot over they years, it has failed in many ways.

Two of its biggest failures are the inexplicable inability to establish a pan HQ/operations and administrative centre, and the absence of a thriving 'pan factory' in the land of pan. A plot of land has been allocated for the HQ for a long time, but nothing has been done to bring it to fruition. That is crying shame number one.

And a modern pan factory which employs scores of tuners and other skilled personnel who churn out instruments every day for sales across the world is a miracle waiting to happen. This could be a major manufacturing industry earning vital foreign exchange and promoting 'brand T&T', also waiting to happen. Such establishment can provide gainful employment for many in the pan fraternity and money in the coffers of a company that should be owned by pannists.

I know there are a few small private factories, but I am talking about a huge operation.

These are but a few initiatives that ought to have happened over the years, but failed to materialise. There are others--like pan concerts, involving one or two bands, every weekend. For logistical reasons, every band should have an ensemble that could perform at any other 'happening' anywhere in the Caribbean. Demand your space at every State-funded cultural programme--even at events like the Divali Nagar!

My two cents contribution to the discussion.

Raffique Shah

The greatest error was to not have the steelband evolve with carnival.

Those who got the money will think it was money well spent, those who did not will not agree.

One thing everyone agrees on is that money was spent and nothing seems to have been done.

Certainly more could or should have been done, but the point is over the years most agree that nothing much has been done although big money has been spent and yet we are in the same place, with the same problems, with the same people at the helm.

Unless the pan players and those who preach change, do the necessary and make the change happen, it will not.

Status quo is a hell of a thing. Inertia is another.

Things do not change easily and where there isn't the will to change or force to do so, it simply does not.

It's the same thing with West Indies cricket. You could complain all you want, but if you go and vote back in the same people or other people with the same mindset, how do you expect things to change?

Yes, some panyards and pan players seem to have survived or even done well, but those are the ones who happen to have fallen on to the right road and most have done it in 'foreign'

Some are apparently doing all right here, with the emphasis on apparently, because in reality they are not.

As acclaimed as Boogsie is, I would not consider his living conditions as doing well, in fact far from it and certainly not for a musician of his calibre, when comparisons are made to other international musicians.

The panyards that have added variations on pan playing, like Birdsong, have done it to survive and they survive on funding and entrepreneurship and other activities, not directly related to pan.

That is one model, but is that sustainable for the average pan player or even panyard?

Everyone agrees that the true potential of pan has not been realized and is still out there 'for the picking' so to speak and someone else might just be eyeing it.

But that is the problem with TnT, not just with pan.

Cocoa, sugar, banana, coconuts, even oil has been left unexploited and allowed to degenerate into nothingness.

If the pan was invented anywhere else it would have been much further along by now.

We just have too much money. We could throw it away left, right and center and not care how it's spent.

If we had less we would be more conscious of what we do with it.

If we could see further than our noses and not be content with what we already got away with, we could be big fish in the big pond. But we easy. God is a Trini. We know somebody in charge. That is somebody else problem, I good for now.

The best thing for pan and Trinidad, is for the oil to run out.

You will then see how fast pan will rise.

I am looking at this question and all the comments thus far. The question is a good one. But rather than resorting to emotional arguments we need to get the facts in. I think there have been but a few studies on the multi-dimensional impact of the steelpan. I don't think anyone has tried to quantize it - a complex task given how the culture has spread globally.

The discussion reminds me of a study conducted by the WIGUT (academic employees union ) at UWI in Jamaica. They did a very revealing study on the impact of UWI on the Jamaican economy  at a time when the Government was planning to implement significant cutbacks on University spending. Positive impact was recorded in unexpected places, not just in terms of the number of qualified graduates produced. 

Like most of the contributors here, I sense that there is need for a drastic shift in the way we treat with the instrument and its stakeholders. I think the conversation should shift to making concrete suggestions

Dr. Copeland: In the middle of all my "ole talk" posts, I have made one constant suggestion on this forum (repeatedly) for years. And that is SELLING PAN MUSIC TO THE WORLD. Making and selling marketable PAN MUSIC for the outside world is my concrete suggestion and I have offered specifics.

What is 'pan music'?


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