Sagicor Life Inc and Exodus
Steel Orchestra have concluded their sponsorship agreement after six years of
Sagicor’s General Manager, Robert Trestrial, said via a press
release that the relationship between Sagicor and Exodus was not about their
financial investment in Exodus, but about the development of the steelband.
The release stated that Sagicor was now ready to focus on other areas
that need their assistance.
Trestrial said: “Six years ago when we
embarked on the sponsorship of the Exodus Steelband, we believed that we were
making a significant investment to the advancement of the most indigenous of our
art forms. We are pleased to have contributed to the enhancement of the
facilities at Exodus pan yard, and we believe that both Exodus and Sagicor have
raised the bar on how sponsorship relationships are engaged.
“For us at
Sagicor, our relationship was not solely about our financial investment in
Exodus, but more importantly about the development of the steelband,”Trestrail
Meanwhile, Exodus Manager and former Republic Bank manager,
Ainsworth Mohammed said the steelband was appreciative of the assistance from
Sagicor. He said with or without sponsorship, the band has to move forward. “We
are a successful steelband, and we have always been successful. We have always
known that the relationship between Exodus and Sagicor would come to an end
because the sponsorship agreement was only for five years although Sagicor
extended the agreement to an extra year to make it six years, so we are
appreciative of that. We know Sagicor had other corporate objectives and we
cannot object to that,” Mohammed said.
He noted that the sponsorship
arrangement with Sagicor was very beneficial to the band. “We had some key goals
which we were able to accomplish during the period of sponsorship, and I would
like to see this level of sponsorship for more of the steel bands in Trinidad
and Tobago. Sagicor has always treated us with a tremendous amount of respect.
It is more like a family-type relationship and we continue as good friends,”
Steelbands are not business entities that are created to make a commercial product for sale and profit.
Steelbands are cultural and artistic entities, and their products are the music, art and entertainment.
Unlike popular music groups that are created by individuals for fame and fortune, the steelband has been a cultural endeavor with generations deep roots in the community.
Because of its role in the community, most steelbands will always need some sort of sponsorship, be it from communities, government, businesses or individuals.
In this respect, the steelbands are comparable to operas and classical orchestras that, though successful, do depend on municipalities and wealthy patrons for support.
I venture to suggest that even rich successful sports organizations seek sponsorship from corporations who buy expensive boxes, etc, and from local governments in the form of lucrative tax breaks.
Many ball clubs in the US have threatened to move the operations elsewhere if not given financial support, and some have done so.
Most communities are willing to support these clubs, as they recognise that a successful sports team can generate revenue, and bring recognition.
To expect steelbands to survive as profit making businesses, free of assistance, is asking too much of most steelbands.
Like businesses in market competition, a few will survive, but most will disappear.Statistically, most businesses do fail.
This would not be a desirable outcome for the steelbands.
As bands become more successful, the dependence on sponsors should lessen, and that may be the case with Exodus.
The day of the single big name sponsor may be passing, but most bands will still need support to continue on for generations.
We fool ourselves if we think otherwise.
Again, this certainly does not mean that bands couldn't and shouldn't be doing more to generate income, but one's expectations have to be realistic.
Foy, there have always been professional pan musicians, and small professional groups that toured, worked on cruise ships etc etc.
In other works, there have always been a business aspect to pan.
Small groups of panists can be professional, and should form bands that function as businesses.
We all know individual panists and tuners and arrangers who have done quite well, and who have had decent careers in the artform.
But to visualise panorama size steelbands existing as businesses, you must be dreaming.
Most of the members of Panorama size steelbands are amateur musicians, playing for love.
A strictly professional approach will change the nature of steelbands as we know it.
What business model do you propose?
Sometimes I think you argue just for the sake of arguing.
Mr. Glen, first and foremost let me say, you have NEVER heard me argued any garbage on this forum. What you get from me 100% of the time is FACTS, FACTS and more FACTS. And I might add, all CAN BE SUBSTANTIATED, do not be fooled. Your problem with me stems from the fact that I do not jump on the band-wagon with all of the mindless drivvle and garbage that comes accross. You are more than welcome to challenge ANYTHING I say on this forum at anytime. BRING IT ON! Just for your information. I live in the US for thirty plus years and have always played. I have taught pan in school and not just as an extra-curricular activity. First subject every morning, INTERNATIONAL MUSIC. I have always had an up-scale band that plays only for the most prestigious of clients. We play for the Bill Gates, the Paul Allens, Boeing. That is our clientele. I can tell you that over here STEELBAND IS A BUSINESS. You have to have a business license. You have to pay taxes. You have to file a tax return. You have to have UBI (Uniform Business Identifier) number. You cannot buy a vehicle in the band's name unless you become incorporated. You have to have a Bank Account because nobody is going to pay you cash, because they will put you in their taxes as someome they do business with. So, they will always pay you with a check. Does this not sound to you like you are running a small business enterprise? As far as culture goes with steelbands, once you have left Caribbean airspace the cultural element has no traction. It is all business. Do you honestly think that all those foreign countries that are now clammering for Steelband are actuall interested in our cultue? NO MY FRIEND! What they are interested in is the FINANCIAL POTENTIAL of the artform. Think about it!
Thank you Sidd, very well said. If the bands leave bread (crumbs) on the table $$$. It will be to their own detriment, because some "scrupulous" or unscrupulous person would notice the bread lying around and help themselves to it. Non-profit organizations are capable of utilizing revenue streams sustaining themselves because there is a need to be filled. The past thinking of "Art" and "Culture"and doing steelband for the love of the art-form etc., etc., was interwoven with the realities of the starving musician syndrome; people played music for a "drink ah rum". It is that thinking in the past which has keep the cycle of dependency ongoing for steelbands and their players. However, today's aspirations toward financial sustainability through proper management and accountability will produce increasing revenues and better outcomes for pan and pan-people in this current climate.
Finally, if one professes to be well-informed and knowledgable in assessing the needs of the steelband community, one must also be open to be taught or have their pan thinking re-conditioned as a measure to produce real lasting growth for the pan, and the people of the pan. I have said too much already, so until my next visit. Keep it sweet and succinct. Emphasis placed on Sweet and Succinct.
Exodus, we know that your very, very short spell of being without a sponsor will come to an end soon. Given your track record of greatness, discipline and the will to never fall short, someone is waiting there for you. BIIIGGG.
I must first Congratulate Sagicor for their Sponsorship of Exodus....and hope that they will sometime in the future assist other bands to Move up and out as was done with Exodus. In these times of tough economic realities,a lot of bands are sliding down the slippery slope. Every year it gets tougher only the very strong will survive...even with great help.
40 years ago sponsorship was really big. It spoke to "STATUS" of Sponsor,Arranger and Pan Tuner. It was all about the Sponsors. Today its fading. I remember the steelband had to prove itself worthy to be Sponsored. Thousands upon thousands of packs of salted and fried nuts and Evening news papers had to be sold "Be a Cooperative,form a Cooperative was the advice from an Executive Company Officer "and we will think of assisting you". The work became so tough that the pan members were now becoming entrepreneurs, in that Some members had to be doing sales and the music was falling back so badly that the same Executive wanted to know why are we not practicing daily?......it was taking its toll, although we were coming up financially the few who were doing the work were the management; and lets put it this way...CHIEF COOK AND BOTTLE WASHERS...
I read all the comments for and against sponsorship...all very interesting. To keep your band viable you need the BIG HELP...to make the band really independent means to diversify into the many areas mentioned.You need the BIG HELP as well.Apparently the cost of living has changed the dynamics of the Steel Orchestra. To keep your Membership you have to Support them financially especially during the Down times of the musical season.When I say support I meant assisting with transport and sometimes sustenance. Lets face it not everyone is gainfully employed. One Guy told me that he wants to open up his own band, but everyone must own their own instrument,he will supply the infrastructure...how improbable? you guessed it he was joking...