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Measuring the economic and social value of Carnival

January 17, 2014 at 3:12pm

One of the goals of NCC's new five-year Strategic Plan  2014-2018 is to replace the focus on Carnival as a festival with Carnival as an industry.

The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago Act(Chapter 42.01, Act 9, 1991, Parliament) provides in part that the functions of the Commission are as follows:

(a)  to make Carnival a viable national, cultural and commercial enterprise;

(b)  to provide the necessary managerial and organisational infrastructure for the efficient and effective presentation and marketing of the cultural products of Carnival; and

(c)   to establish arrangements for ongoing research,the preservation and permanent display of the annual accumulation of Carnival products created each year by the craftsmen, musicians, composers and designers of Carnival.

The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Industry has given rise to industrial production of a range of cultural products and services, including cultural events.

Some producers in the Carnival-related Industries produce Carnival related products and services exclusively.

Others produce general use products and services that have wide general usage across all Industrial groups and are not exclusive to the Carnival related Industries.

All studies to date have indicated that the industry offers rich potential for national development. Most important among these is the 2011WIPO study of the Contribution of the Copyright Sector to the Economy of Trinidad and Tobago.

The copyright-based industries produce about 4.8% of the GDP and about 5% of all jobs. These shares are growing.

Carnival is an important contributor to this process.Moreover, it already produces a wider range of intellectual property and related goodwill other than copyright. The T&T Carnival is a global player.


The GOTT now intends to measure the full potential of Carnival in a way that allows the country to make the most effective policy forits development. The GOTT wants to promote the most effective use of its potential to stimulate national development. It will promote, among others:

·      Economic benefits – general goodwill; wealth creation; intellectual property rights; bigger and more profitable industries;employment; foreign exchange earnings; private sector development.

·      Social benefits – self-esteem; social integration; leadership skill development; physical health and healthy habits;education and learning; volunteerism and community spirit; dedication; spread of the carnival work ethic.

·      Governance benefits – piloting significant steps to the enhancement of the democratic process in T&T through enhanced and effective public participation is shaping industry policy.


In making policy for the carnival industry, the GOTT intends to promote the science-policy interface to which it agreed as part of theRio+20 agenda for sustainable development and good governance.

Accordingly, the GOTT will arrange to involve all stakeholders in the most democratic way possible. So, it will employ a sector-wide method that:

·      Collects and uses comprehensive data from all domains to measure industry potential and monitor the support needed by the establishments and businesses in the industry.

·      Promotes the development of the private sector.

·      Enables every stakeholder to have a clear democratic voice in shaping the national policy consensus.

·      Proceeds in a way that allows the GOTT to be able to assess all stakeholder intents and signal its own intent effectively,through proper laws, so that all can jointly plan and implement the most effective strategy possible.


Background work is currently being done by the consultants of the NCC to assemble some of the starting data readily available from the CSO and the stakeholder community. This will involve getting information on stakeholder goals and concerns.

Immediately after Carnival, the stakeholder participatory process of policy design will begin, adopting the most effective arrangements possible.

Stakeholders include the GOTT and the Media. Ultimately, as the program evolves, it is expected that:

·      The NCC will be providing technical assistance to all of its member institutions to assist their own members in developing and presenting their positions and their capacity to shape law and policy for the industry.

·      The GOTT will provide a suitable forum in the form of specific parliamentary sub-committee initiatives, such as hearings, to enable the widest possible public involvement in determining the best policy going forward.


Out of the participatory process will come an agreement among stakeholders about the way forward – a broad-based set of development programs. This will feature at least:

·      Continuous awareness building in the nation.

·      Continuous (annual) industry monitoring by the CSO and other entities – upgrading what is now done for all other industries.

·      Democratized investment planning and policy based on the data collected, including

i.              Investment promotion, marketing and rebranding for industry development.

ii.             Infrastructure for sector development.

iii.             Education and related training for sector development.

iv.            Research and technical support for enterprises.

v.             Risk management and related financing strategies for enterprises.

vi.            Reform of incentives to promote private sector development in the sector.

vii.            Comprehensive information sharing and communication with all stakeholders.

From the The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad & Tobago.

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I would like to add to our goals and objectives:

1.  Upgrade each pan venue in Trinidad and Tobago.  This will increase the self-esteem of the pannist and serves as a perfect incentive for locals and  visitiors to spend time in the pan yard.  Encourage the business sector to sponsor such programs and offer incentives to these groups for their participation in nuturing the role of the pannist and the creation of this indigenous instument and the music.

2. Liaise with the Anthropology department of the universities and other institutions to design a Practicum for students to obtain credits  when they spend time in the 'mas camps.  Have them prepare a thesis or document their experiences and  observations of life in the mas camps when mundane, repetitive tasks become a  mechanism to create  collectivism, camarade, volunteerism, etc.


Thank you 



I did not see the word steelband or pan in this article, if tax dollars is going to be used to promote carnival I hope there is a plan to have  MORE steelband involvement because it is the steelband that make T&T carnival unique, almost naked women is not too good a selling point, Rio has more.

If calypso, steelpan and mas is understood de facto to be an integral part of the carnival tradition, then it must be stated.

Complicated, verbose & short on detail. I saw some costumes are being made abroad.

What's going on?

Anthony, this is what I think is going on, people are out to make m---o--n--e--y  and they don't care what they do, by not mentioning the steelband show you what they are about.


I've always felt that the political and economic powers in T&T has never really appreciated the potential of the steelband in its entirety as a valuable asset worthy of investment.

Whether for class, cultural or racial reasons the steelband has been seen by many as more of an annoyance than anything else.

Even the much celebrated panorama was in reality something of a pacifier given to the steelbands to quench their competitive fires and channel them to musical competition, to lessen the conflicts that resulted in Carnival day violence.

As a matter of fact, whether by design or not, part of the success of panorama in reducing steelband violence was also in containing the steelbands in the savannah, and removing them for the streets.

The idea of a steelband driven carnival parade was never  seriously attempted, even though attempts were made in words and song to promote the idea of a calypso and steelband carnival.

In other words steelband-calypso-carnival link is for the most part a myth, even though this image is promoted as a way of differentiating the carnival from carnivals around the world.

Much as we may love our chutney and soca, if Carnival must be promoted as a Trinidadian industry, serious consideration has to be given to the role that the steelband must play, since the steelband is the only instrument of culture capable of making the Trinidad carnival special and unique..

Then I wonder what would happen if economic action was undertaken in the form of a complete boycott of steelbands, what message would be understood?


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