When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

By By Gary Cardinez

The preliminary rounds of Pan is Beautiful XII are behind us, and we eagerly await the finals in the solo, single pan, ensemble and orchestra categories.

Sadly, the turnout for the preliminary rounds of competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain was woeful, with only a handful of patrons showing up each night. The combined attendance for the four nights of competition could be estimated at less than 1,000 people.

This raises the question, “Is pan really beautiful, and for whom?” In reality, that is a total contradiction, because the pan is a beautiful instrument, and when played it gives you goose bumps. Examples are San City Steel Orchestra’s rendition of “Skyfall” and NGC Couva Joylanders’ execution of the theme from “Lord of the Rings.”


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No one ask for my opinion but I'll give it anyway, looks like too much, every other week there is an "pan in yuh this"or "pan in yuh that". is some one trying to compensate for lack of pan on the road for carnival?

The rules for Pan in T&T have not changed. Once the creme de la creme of the pan world are not in the competition the crowds will not support the show. No All Stars, Despers, Skiffle, (all past winners, mind you). What yuh expect? For some reason the goings on at QRC and some "Pan Challenge" and other "pan in yuh somethings" (lol... nice one Cecil) are more important than an opportunity to showcase pan music at it's best, as previous Steelband Music Festivals have proven.

I believe that the indiscipline practiced and well learnt at Panorama has everything to do with the problem that the modern Music Festival faces. Music Festivals in the '80's saw four days of Prelims, two days of Semis, all with good attendance and a sell-out Finals. For Panorama it is ok to play with as many bands as humanly possible, no restrictions. Arrangers are not restricted to one band and the ability to read a music score is not an issue. The average Panorama learning period for most players is roughly two weeks. Music Festival on the other hands demands more of everyone, player, musical director, conductor, supporter...you name it. Sadly, most panmen and women are no longer prepared to work hard.

As a young player I recognized that Music Festival presented me with an  opportunity to take music study seriously...to understand the inner workings of music scores...really grasp why we do what we do....but that is me ... I can't speak for others. The thing is though, since Panorama is the be all and end all of Pan in T&T one can only expect the Panorama mentality where anything concerning the instrument is concerned. Just as when a band is knocked out the Panorama their supporters give up on the rest of the show, so it is with the Music Festival. Steups..."My band eh playin' so I eh goin'"

Amen....water down pan show will not fly....

I think more emphasis should be placed on our marketing strategy. Every event for the art form, in my humble opinion, is poorly marketed. Marketing for any event needs at least between 3 - 6months of advertising, a year would be best. It's just not enough time for patrons that want to come to your show to prepare themselves. You can't come up with an event in October and start advertising in September. We have to keep in mind that there are a lot of other events as well that are hoping to attract the same people we are targeting.

A calendar of events for the year should be in place from the beginning of the year and should be advertised from the first major event (presumably, Panorama). That way folks can plan on attending. The talent is definitely there, but the marketing needs to be equal. Might I suggest that Pantrinbago hire a marketing company to handle that segment of the business. Just my humble opinion.   

Hello ODW,

Thank you for posting this discussion "Poor attendance for beautiful pan"

However the entire article was posted (above) - and Pan Times has reiterated that articles in their entirety, must not be posted due to copyright issues.

Therefore, please post the first three paragraphs, (or any three or so paragraphs that you wish), and provide a LINK back to the original article - as Pan Times does.

(You can simply "edit" your post, above, and remove the extra paragraphs, no need to start a fresh post).

Please attend to this immediately, otherwise regretfully your post must be deleted.

Thank you for your understanding, and cooperation.

Pan Times.

Leon I echo what you have stated that professional marketing is the key to any successful presentation. It needs to be strategically worked out. the time of the year, the venue, the participating artists, the cost for admission ..etc...

That said and done, Trinidad is a funny crowd of people and funnier when it comes to Pan... It is said that we are the greatest lovers of Pan but in the next breath it can also be said that we are the greatest haters of Pan.. if that be so then the equation cancels out... so where does it leave us?

There is this "Thing" with Trinidadians that they somehow feel that they should not "Pay" to go see a pan show and that is a sad reality for Pan in the country of birth.

An overall concept of marketing that will attract and change the mentality and attitude of Trinis to Pan is definitely something worth looking at and investing into ....but who really cares..... I read an article recently that Nestor Sullivan wrote about the last summit in Trinidad where all of the heads of state were  visiting...yet only Obama and the USA got a Pan and as Nestor rightly put it "we missed an opportunity to market the Pan internationally by giving each country the unique gift of our invention "The Pan". I keep saying we need a "Ministry exclusively for the Pan" where the Pan can have its own  budget, own resources, own ability to take it to the higher levels it needs to go. everything else to me is just lip-service and tokens ...but who is listening in T&T and who really cares !!!



Even with good marketing the not so popular bands will strugle for attendance,  Part of the problem is that we are only seeing pan through the eyes of PanTrinbago.


This is why I am pushing the concept of a "Ministry exclusively for Pan".. to many people it may seem far-fetched and out of reach ..but it is not  and I am definitely doing more research in that area and will present my in depth findings at some time ..so I have already begun the "Marketing and Promotion " part ..time will do the rest when more people realize and join in the chorus of this song.


We do need a Ministry of Pan. everything about the steelpan and the steelband needs to be looked at and see where we came from and what direction we should be moving in.

Trinidadians take we ting "Steelpan" for granted, as you say, they don't want to pay, they want it to be free. All them affairs that they have that are free you see plenty people, but to Pay, NO

I  will just share my 2 cents, I think we need to be honest with this situation. To illustrate, I cannot imagine a world cup without the likes of Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Holland, and now Spain attracting the same level of patronage and worldwide interest that the tournament currently enjoys. In the days when the Music Festival was packed, you could be certain the All Stars, Desperadoes, Renegades, Phase 11, and Exodus would be there in the finals, creating memories that last to this day.

If Pan Trinbago wants to attract the masses, they have to find a way to woo the bands that pull the masses, case closed, no disrespect to the bands currently participating. All entertainment businesses understand this concept - just look at the Soca Monarch which has managed to pull not only Machel Montano, but this year even Superblue, back into the limelight. Its about the stars, and good entertainment managers understand that stars equal ticket sales.

If anyone doubts this, just take a critical look at the Classical Jewels series of Classical Concerts that Trinidad All Stars resurrected in 2010 and have continued biannually. The combined attendance at these weekend concerts more than likely eclipses the attendance at the whole Music Festival with all those bands. This is not about which band you like, or who is small band and who is big band, its about understanding the business and who the movers and shakers are.

The other obvious issue is the prize money. Panorama now rewards in the millions - the cost of running a steelband has increased dramatically at the same time. Top bands will not participate unless the financial rewards are worth it, simple.

Lastly, and again no disrespect to the bands participating, but the stiffer the competition, the more you get out of the bands and players. When all the top guns are there going at each other's throats as it were, the quality of the show or at least the public's perception of the quality, also increases. This is reflected in interest, and attendance.

Its time the pan world be honest with itself and stop jostling like crabs in a barrel. This is showtime, and the whole world is watching.

While it is true that the top bands are not competiting and as a result attendance is low, I like some other members believe that marketing is the key.

Some time ago PanTrinbago announced that they were planning an International Panorama competition in 2014, around the Indepence holiday.   When are they going to disclose more information about this event, or is it a secret?   I am sure a lot of people like myself are waiting to get some more information in order to plan their vacation around the time of the event. 

This event should be on the front burner with a constant reminder to the International audience.   They should be in the process of acquiring the broadcast rights, if they have not done that already.   Take a page from Kim Johnson's effort, his film is not complete, but it has already been sold to PBC.

The yearly Panorama sells itself, therefore more emphasis should be place on the International event at this time.  From mid November to early December emphasis can once more be on the yearly Panorama.  But as I said, I guess it is a secret.


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