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No support for steelpan and the youths in Trinidad and Tobago, Starlift Junior Steel Orch will not be performing in Montreal for the Montreal International Steelpan Festival 2011

Well the more things change, the more things remain the same. People especially politicians just provide lip service to the steelpan and the youths of TnT. Starlift Junior Steel Orch will not be heading to Canada to participate in the Montreal international Steelpan Festival next week. Despite proudly representing TnT at the Festival in 2010, playing to standing ovations and several encores and winning the Junior Panorama competition and placing 2nd in the Adult Panorama and gaining international exposure on the Pan Podium (England), When Steel Talks and Pan on the net, the government of TnT has decided to blank us. The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs which sponsored a concert featuring Nikki Minaj and other artistes has blanked us. The TTENT, Ministry of Tourism and TDC have all BLANKED us and the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism continues to give us a run around. Even corporate sponsors have blanked us. So in the home of steelpan, the cycle continues and no one really cares about the steelpan and the youth. Hopefully we will be able to attend the Festival in 2012. Meantime, Starlift Junior Steel Orch continues to perform well and strives to be the number 1 youth band in TnT.

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hLetters of support should be addressed to whom?  Politicians understand loud noises directed at them, though.



I agree but we could not even secure a meeting with the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters, we kept getting a run around from Ministry officials. Its just very disappointing.


Im really sorry to hear about this. This is a prime example of something i've been saying on this website for a while. Pan has no place in T&T. You have a minister who wouldnt come out and say it, but he would probably support any other form of culture. If you we a best village group, stickfighters, or a calypso chorale, you would have been writing an article from toronto.. I hope something happens soon..



welcome to the "real" Trinidad.  And I say that only, not including the beautiful island of Tobago in this shame.


The Oil-Rich, Oil-Mecca, Natural-Gas-Resource, island of Trinidad - and the HOME of the Steelpan - (it's National Instrument, by the way) - blanks the "future" - the Young People who represent the country by playing its National Instrument.  


And the same goes for the "corporate" sector.  There is no accountability whatsoever.  Both the government, and the corporate and private sector lose nothing when they pull these stunts.


Take the tragic, incredible, sad situation of Shiron Cooper - a gifted, well-known teenage pan player, who had a life-threatening disease, and needed one million TT dollars, less than a paltry USD $156,000 for medical treatment abroad.


Not the Trinidad government, not the corporate sector, not the private sector, not one well-to-do individual, several living in multi-million dollar residences - no one stepped up and took care of this needed sum of money.  Shiron died; without ever being able to raise the necessary funds.


There are hundreds of individuals within Trinidad who could have written a check for the full amount without batting an eye, to gave Shiron at least a chance at life, by being able to pay for her operation. 


Not one person ever did.


This is the true ilk of those with "money" in Trinidad - that includes the government, and the individuals with "means."


It is also why the Steelpan culture is in the state it is, and has been for years.


Barry, those of us who would gladly fund you wholeheartedly, cannot afford to do so. We only wish we could.  I pray there is a turnaround in the next 48 hours.  I can imagine the hours of hard work, sacrifice and practice that Starlift Junior Steel Orchestra put into preparation for what should have been a fulll set of performances in Canada this weekend.

Thank you for the support, we are really disappointed at the situation especially after the great performance last year. I hope the situation can change before the weekend.

PanWatch this is the real story.



 I agree that help should have been afforded the band, from the state, and corporate and private sector.What I would

  wish that you inform us as to,the efforts the band made to raise funds,in order to help themselves.

  I hope that something happens very quickly so that these youngsters,are able to perform at the Festival  

The band had several fund raisers and we have raised over $40000.00 on our own towards our trip to Canada.
I am not surprise by this news of the Starlift Youth Steel Band not going to Montreal, Canada  to Perform and represent Trinidad & Tobago. The Government of Trinidad & Tobago dont care about Steel Pan and its ah FACT because i see this EVERY SINGLE YEAR. I was once a member of the Bunji Garlin Soca Band and there was a Concert called SOCA FOR SUMMER with the leading soca bands in Trinidad & Tobago and the headline act was Jamaican Dancehall Superstar ELEPHANT MAN and that disturb me so much that i dislike the people who is taking Charge of Culture in Trinidad & Tobago,but there is something coming BIG BIG BIG that they will all be very shame about when it happens, i dont know when, but it will happen. When i was ah kid going to school in 1990, i did music and the instrument they used in the classroom was a RECORDER yes ah RECORDER and it is still so in 2011. That is very very sad, and so much more things to mention, As Len Sharpe once said if Steel Pan was Jamaica's National Instrument, it would of been better respected and that is so so so true, so wat more can i say, KEEP ON FIGHTING BARRY & STARLIFT
I too feel the keen sense of disappointment and hurt that these young pan musicians must be experiencing at the moment. It's distressing that taxpayers' money is flung behind all sorts of flimsy projects but cannot be invested in the youth and in effective marketing of our country. Let's all act to ensure that the next 24-48 hours witness intense activism via all the local media, MP's etc., to demand - not plead - that this wrong be immediately righted!

My heart goes out to you Barry and Starlift Juniors Steelband. You all did such an excellent job last year here in Montreal that we had organized for you all to be a part of the Carifiesta Parade this year. Many will be disappointed without your presence this year.

As you well highlighted the home of the Steelpan is a lip service piece of old talk.  Pan is not the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago in any legit manner it is all lip service. As a Trini our people still does not get it yet. i am soon going to complete my research project as to why there should be a Ministry exclusively for Pan in Trinidad & Tobago ..my research is almost complete ...because this is the only way that  true and proven Pan Ambassadors like your group will be able to obtain its recognition, respect and dues.

Do Something For Pan the 2011 theme song. Sadly the leadership in the Government and Pan is not taking heed. There is a need for more Steelpan activism home and abroad.

Barry we will be doing our part to assist your group next year, let your members know this and we are still hoping at the 11th hour that the Ministry of Arts  & Multiculturalism will stop running around and support your group...best wishes


I dispair of the short-sightedness of those in power in our beloved Trinidad.

God knew exactly what he was doing when he let us invent steelpan and the Jamaicans Reggae.
He knew it would highlight the stupidity and backwardness of a nation when it comes to promoting itself.

This together with falling standards in education, what's in it for me attitude of politicians, and lack of support from the media are just a few of the things stiffling growth of anything worthwhile in T&T today.

As Rupert Murdoch has proved, control the media and you will control the Government. No politician likes to wake up everyday to detrimental remarks in the press and on TV, highlighting his or her's shortcomings.

If their stupidity, greed and dishonesty are constantly highlighted they soon fall into line with the public's wishes.

But does Pan Trinbago have any friends in the media? I think not.

Unfortunately the country's expats do not have voting rights or if they do they do not exercise it. I say this because only when one leaves the shores does one realise just how important the culture is.

Since the advent of the internet the world has become a more knowledgable and knowledge hungry place.

The same way Reggae used the promotional aspects of records and radio in the last century, we should be using the internet to promote Steelbands/orchestras. Notice I used the collective noun and not individual panists thus reflecting the band's motto "WE NOT I"

I hope it's still not too late Barry

Randi Curvan


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