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Generations-old Metro Steel Orchestra could disband after financial woes

BROOKLYN - A steel drum ensemble that's been active in Brooklyn for generations may be nearing the end of its run.

The Metro Steel Orchestra is in desperate need of funds to remain in operation, according to members.

The ensemble is made up mostly of high school students who say the orchestra is more than a hobby -- it's a way of life.

The group is currently preparing for Panorama, an annual musical competition held at the Brooklyn Museum. But without additional funding, there may be no encore for the ensemble after this year's heat.

It costs the group about $25,000 just to participate in events and competitions, and that doesn't include transportation costs or rent for practice facilities.

The Metro Steel Orchestra had to leave practice spaces in Crown Heights and Flatbush as rents rose. The group eventually settled in an abandoned Brownsville lot. Additional costs include tuning the instruments and building competition and parade props.

"We're getting pushed out further and further," says Tony Joseph, the ensemble's president. "And then when we go to rent some of these properties, they want $5,000 a month, $7,000 a month. We don't have that kind of money."

The group has reached out to politicians and area businesses for financial assistance and sponsorships, but so far, Joseph says they've received almost no help.

Panorama takes place Labor Day Weekend at the Brooklyn Museum.

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Another Sad Story. No one Cares about the lives that are saved by being positively engaged in music.Everything these days is Profit driven. Greed if you ask me. Give Something back to the families that keep d]some of your businesses afloat and keep you communities safe by keeping gainfully occupied.Help save the future, that is what Tony has been doing along with

old metro steel orchestra please support and help the future and the art form.I suffer the same here in spice island with melodic south stars steel orchestra.Keep the Struggle going Tony.God bless you and your organisation for the lives you have saved thru the pan movement. Hope it all works out in the end.

Really sad and I am afraid a story we will be hearing more and more in the coming years here in Boroklyn. It is high time for steelbands to strategize how to adapt in this rapidly changing environment.

Metro has been doing some real good lately too and becoming more youth-oriented. Luckily I know Tony is a resourceful individual and will do all he can to keep it afloat. 

Despite the disheartening nature of these stories, it is good that the local media is taking at least some notice of the situation, between this and the article from the Times last month. Hopefully help will be forthcoming but it's time to shed the holdover mentality of waiting for handouts (i.e. sponsors) to materialize out of thin air, and devise ways to become more self-sustaining.

Noah, you said it, this story we will be hearing not only in Brooklyn but where ever there's a steelband. Running a steelband is costly and when there is no money coming in the end of the road becomes very visible.

Cecil: I love that closing clause:  .... the end of the road becomes very visible.

Yet, PAN always finds a way to PROGRESS. I don't know if you can say STEELBAND any more. The new standard might be STEELPAN BAND.

What faces  METRO today is what will soon face all BKLYN  STEELBANDS. We dont have the political connections we used to, Even  the LABOUR DAY CARNIVAL IS UNDER THREAT and the organizers DONT SEE IT OR UNDERSTAND IT.  The USSA and WIADCA arent sensitive or astute enough to understand or want to help. They cultural institutions of NY state and NY city are oblivious to our plight or just simply couldnt care less. SOONER OR LATER EVERY STEELBAND IN BKLYN  WILL BE IN THIS POSITION.  paddy corea EX METRO/DESPERS/GOLDEN STARS.


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