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Panorama Fiasco on a Global Stage Caught on my Blackberry

Panorama on the Net 2009

In the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of pan historians, fans and players hooked into the When Steel Talks online network and site seeking to gain and/or share information on the panorama happenings, and become associates and friends with others of like minds. Our WST amalgamation of PanOnTheNet.com, bolstered by our presence on emerging technologies like Facebook, Ning and Twitter - to name a few - heated up our ‘lines’ into unprecedented numbers.

We at When Steel Talks are particularly pleased with the unprecedented lineup of prestigious educators, historians, management, arrangers and players who have become members of our recently-formed WST forum. You represent some of the greatest minds and talent in the global steelpan community. You hail from every corner of the planet. We are honored with your presence. Moreover, we look forward to your contributions in making this a community that will propel the steelpan music genre and art form to new levels. Your accessibility, exchanging of ideas, and interaction with the youth, are priceless.

The selfless interaction that we have seen between players and arrangers globally has been very encouraging. The ability for a budding pan player in Europe, Africa or Japan to exchange concepts and tips with a noted educator, arranger or player in the Caribbean or any place in the world, is awesome. The fact that you have availed yourselves to such an undertaking is impressive and we at When Steel Talks applaud your commitment and efforts.

Here, the steelpan music community has an opportunity to take the steelpan music experience and culture to a new plateau, globally speaking. The opportunity is there to bring fresh perspectives to new and existing challenges.


Panorama Fiasco on a Global Stage Caught on my Blackberry

The flip side of the attention to all the great pan availability on the internet and mobi devices, is that when something stinks, it is a global stinker and moreover, it is instantaneous. Is there anyone who has not heard or seen what went down at the finals of the large band panorama, in relation to the removal of able pan men, women and youth - from the Trinidad and Tobago flagship steel orchestras/organizations - at this competition??!! Even if we didn’t want to know, we at WST are getting an earful!!

To all the pan folks who were - just before they took the stage, and in one case, on stage - so unbelievably dismissed and robbed of performing in this year’s panorama, we feel you and share your agony, anger and aggravation. If all eight of these, the greatest steelbands on the planet gathered in final competition, had said “size is not an issue” among themselves (and is in fact rumored to have been the case) - pray tell: just who made it an issue - live and in vivid color on my Blackberry screen, and that of countless others - as well as for those listening in to the radio stations online? Clearly, no one thought of how this was playing out on the international stage...

Ah - Panorama is no longer a ‘local event’, it is now “unleashed” on the internet. Trinidad and Tobago are you listening? Mr. Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago are you listening?

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I think this point WST was raising in this article. This should never have in the first place. Steps should be taken to make sure that it never happens again regardless how one feel about the pros and cons of the issue.
The use of ALL CAPS is very fatiguing on the eyes, and generally, considered very rude - in internet etiquette.
What occured at the Panorama finals 2009 was indeed unfortunate especially for the well-respected Exodus organization. They were the ones who suffered the most due to the restriction to 100 players since they were the first band to appear with more players. Others like Phase II were able to make adjustments when they got wind of what happened to Exodus. I am told by the pan fraternity that there was adequate warning that Pan Trinbago was going to enforce the rule this year but since they didn't do so in the past there was reason to believe they would again not do so. This is a phenomenon that's popular in Trinidad and Tobago where there is the law which is not enforced so it is not obeyed. Although, like you, I feel for the players, arrangers, sponsors and others who put so many long hours into preparation for that night but on the other hand you have to congratulate and encourage Pan Trinbago for finally taking a stand and enforcing the rule of no more that 100 plyers for the large band category.
Whatever the rulings are, Pan Trinbago (firstly) and the individual band managements (secondly) have a duty to enforce them. There has to be limits, otherwise the biggest band will win , or have an unfair advantage. Studies show that humans generally rate "louder" music as "better"!

However, I would say the biggest issue regarding access to Panorama via the digital media, here in Britain, is the lack of access for MAC users. Many of my friends had the same problem that I did - the only station we could get (as a MAC user) was WACK. and their coverage kept cutting out. I gave up after Renegades. I just hope I'll be there in person next year!
Errr.... Mr. Blake

"you have to congratulate and encourage Pan Trinbago for finally taking a stand and enforcing the rule of no more that 100 plyers for the large band category"

Are you implying that there is someting wrong with 120 players (when the rules allowed) taking the stage for a competition?

And further more, was there something wrong when more than 200 panmen (cavaliers, e.g.) performed in competition decades ago (no damn limits then)?

What's up?
Well-said. Especially your statement about the "phenomenon" here in Trinidad and Tobago. All the way from the bottom to the top, laws are broken and there is no penalty. (Well, unless you are the unfortunate one who is going to be made the "example" for political or media reasons. ) I've been a member of one of the "big five" bands as well as another band in the large category. Regardless, I have always wondered why bands can't decide on players for the Finals prior to the last-minute, as well as adhering to the rules as stated and agreed-upon for that year. There are so many youth in the bands...what is this all teaching them about an "orderly society?"
Everyone seems to have got the gist of the problem. Pantrinbago moved the goal post. Whether they were right to do so is one question. Secondly, having moved the goal post, they should have enforced their position throughout the competition, not just on finals night. The Trinbago attitude of the bands was normal. " We didn't get penalised at semis, so it will be all right for finals".

But underlying that is the ill discipline of some of the bands and band leaders, with an attitude that permeates this society. One that says "is so is so" and carries on regardless. As a pan player, had I been pulled out, I would have wanted to slap the band leader. How dare these selfish egotist allow us to practice week after week, knowing that they are infringing the rules of the competition. They behaved as if everyone of them was so special the rules did not apply to them.

If you don't like the rules, don't enter. If you enter abide by the rules. Did any of those players that were ejected still get a share of prize money? I don't know, but I have a feeling not.

If the bands that treated their players so disrespectfully, felt they were so special and Pantrinbago were so wrong, they should not have accepted any prize money from Pantrinbago.

Also, as a born and bred Trini, I want the world to see the amazing talent and musicianship our twin islands produce, be it on a Black, Blue or Pink Berry! I want us as a nation to be proud of the show we send out to the world. We are shaming ourselves internationally if we go on tolerating the "so 'n' so" rear end banana republic productions that are broadcast. The broadcasters are incompetent, but it' all about jobs for the boys and "who is who friend".

I wrote to the Trinidad Express Newspaper about the broadcast that night. I admit I didn't buy a paper today, but so far down the road from Carnival it will not make print now. It seems the only people that can get into print on these issues are those that are already "friend friend".

The system needs a serious shake up, but the frustration levels run high when you know that unless you become "friend friend to somebody" there is nothing you can do.

Point of information to the members of WST who are not native to Trinidad and Tobago: It is no good asking the Prime Minister if he is listening. It is well know locally that he is blind to the the problems of our nation, deaf to the cries of the people and too dumb to do anything about anything.

Sweet pan to all,
A Sad Trini
I saw this originally posted under "The 100 Player Limit - Good - Bad or Ugly" discussion; it will fit in here as well. I'm apologizing in advance to Makeitplain for 'plagiarizing' his/her stuff, and leaving behind some of the formatting, and pulling it (en masse) into this discussion... It's the same grouse though.

So - this is Makeitplain's post below, there are two parts:

Firstly - Patrick Arnold should be publicly flogged.

This latest fiasco of reducing the number of players in the large band, is a sign of kow-towing to many (including some of the other not-so-big orchestras) who feel that the traditionally large bands overall have maintained too much of the glamor and attention.

Crippling these big bands by limiting them is an incredibly effective way of doing this. And those who suffered? The players, especially the young ones, who were blind-sided and upset on the drag, etc. The same type of scene played out in other bands too, before they took the stage.

Since Patrick Arnold has been around, and on his watch (he is the "president", after all) - changes have been made that are not necessarily kosher. Too many to mention here. Just one, the so-called additional categories for medium and small bands since 2004, there has been bacchanal. And it really came to bear in on panorama night in 2009 for the large bands.

Not that the bands' management are not themselves to blame. Whether or not they liked the 100-player rule - Panorama night was not the time to make a statement at the expense of their faithful players. Rules are rules. Arnold was on record, in the press, saying that the rule of 100 players would be upheld on competition night, (even though he seemed quite comfortable that there was some disregard of it in the semi-finals.)

So - either, let's see:

1) Desperadoes, Phase 2, Renegades, All Stars and Exodus should have boycotted in protest - and not participated in the finals. This would have been the first and last year patrick Anrold pulled this kind of BULLSHIT. The fiasco and embarassment would have been horrendous before in "international" audience - if only three bands had turned up at his grand finale

2) For the love of the artform and their players, these five bands could have decided to bite the financial bullet (Unlikely) - and go on stage with their full numbers - knowing full well that they would have all been disqualfied - but prove their point, and their players would have still reveled on stage.

3) Shut the hell up, and take the shit continuously shovelled down their throats - and more goes down each year - by patrick arnold and Pan Trinbago - with all the backroom double-dealing. In that case, the bands' management should have leveled with their players, and cut people to suit the 100 player limit, days before.

Bitching about the rules after the competition makes no sense. There is not enough unity among the large steel orchestras that Pan Trinbago has to even pause when they make these types of "decisions", and bands' management didn't have enough balls to stand their ground. The five super orchestras should have all come together and told Pan Trinbago before the competition "this is what it would take for us - as the real 'draw' - to appear at your panorama finals night." The time to make your stand, is BEFORE the event. Not after results have been announced. Now, their players, and their bands have paid the price in all the hurt that has now gone down, and all the trauma.

And Arnold and Pan Trinbago got away with yet another pack of shit, laughing all the way to the bank.

It makes no difference which bands get the prizes. Remember Pan Trinbago keeps ten percent of all winnings from each band, in each category. So Silver Stars, for example, gives back one hundred thousand dollars of their million-dollar prize, for "administrative costs" as pan trinbago so interestingly put it some time ago.

The winners:
Pan Trinbago, and the backroom dealers (the other bands management who clapped their hands in glee when they got this limit imposed).

The losers:
- The players, who cried, screamed, and whatever else when this unholy crap went down.
- The public, and true lovers of pan who know how fabulous it is to see one hundred and twenty or fifty or so players putting on a fab show.
- The steelpan culture/artform, which is slowly being strangled by new restrictions ever so often, to suit those who just can't make the grade on the grand stage.

part 2

When do you say - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH???

For instance, Exodus management could have told their players beforehand, that if they were called upon to reduce numbers, that they would all drop their sticks, and silently walk off the stage, with their pans, before striking a note.

Historically, pan people have been "harassed" by authorities, anyway (just ask the older heads like Neville Jules) - and the majority would have understood the need to make a statement there and then, onstage, and fully witnessed by a national and international audience.

However, this would have to have been with the foreknowledge that they were taking the stage in solidarity with the steelband culture, and knowing full well that they were breaking the rules to begin with, but were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the artform, and hoping that at least one other of their fellow competitors would have supported them, had some balls, and followed suit.

Other than that, at that point, when Exodus took the stage, and they were challenged to remove their players - this is what the band manager ( Ainsworth M.?), should have done:

He should have grabbed a microphone on stage (or hollered as loud as he could if none were turned on), and address the thousands of people at the Queens Park Savannah, and say:
"All Yuh - I am not going to make any of my players here onstage leave, just to get the first prize. All of them - especially the younger ones, come to the panyard night after night after night - for weeks, and practice to get here. Every year, this is what they do. Many of them are like my own children. And it is all about them, and for them, and the steelband culture. So - hear what - we come here to play, and that is what we are going to do, whatever the cost. Because tonight, is what it is always about.

Then, he should have turned to his players - and screamed: "All yuh, play! All yuh play, All yuh, play!!" I tell you, those players would have performed like it was their "last panorama," - just to send the message, and to prove that pan is it!! The energy level and hype would have been off the chart.

Nobody would have been angry. They would have gotten a standing ovation, both for what would have been a very emotional, and spiritual performance because of the circumstances, and - for standing their ground.

They would have lost their chance at the championship by default, but the "high" Exodus players would have left the stage on, would have been forever memorable to them.

Now - they have only anger, sorrow and intense disillusionment, and Exodus damaged the loyalty of their members, and pan is demoralized overall. And - the judges still dropped the band to seventh place (penalty or otherwise), out of eight bands.

And this should have been the vision of any of the other bands, who "cut: players" only just before they took the stage.

Is $900,000.00 Trinidad dollars first prize (after pan trinbago takes its ten percent), and bragging rights, really worth the irreparable damage done to the steelband culture, and ripping the hearts out of so many players?

The moral of this story is: It is always better to hold your head up high, stand firm for something, than bow down, and lose everything.
People in Trinidad have yet to learn the art of PROTEST what it means an to do it properly..
Well, as a panist who played on Final night, I thought the whole thing was disgraceful. People must realise that no matter what, RULES are RULES, so if the rule says 100, then thats it, it does NOT make any sense whatsoever to go with more especially since Pantrinbago publicly said that they would be checking on the night. Some of the steelpan administrators and committee members are too out of place and bold face. if you don't like a rule, then just simply plead your case for it to be changed for next year or better yet, just DO NOT participate. Could you image if people just got up one day and decided to do what they want knowing the rules, chaos would reign. I do not always agree with Pantrinbago and their way of doing things for the steelpan but Congrats to Pantrinbago for taking a meaningful stance, this kind of theing has been going on for too long!

B. Mannette
Pantrinbago, rules? You have plenty jokes...


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