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We are all grateful to the companies that sponsor our steelbands in the mecca, heaven knows they are needed, but there is a negative side to sponsorship, being that the bands grow to depend on them for most things thus hindering their ability grow.

What I would like to see is sponsors use their resources to teach steelbands how to operate as a business. They can either get together with sponsors from other bands or just work with their band. They can offer prizes to university students that come up with the best plan on how to utilize pan yards to run business.

Lets open up the pan yard seven days a week.

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Steelbands have been stagnant for years, what's needed is for the government, sponsors and a deligation of pan people to sit down and come up with a plan to move the steelband foward.

What do you mean by that sentence, Cecil?

If you have been following the discussion it should not be too difficult to figure out.

Cecil you are on the right track but things has to be developed in phases. The most pressing problem with the pan is that pan people do not seem to understand that NO GOVERNMENT OR PRIVATE SECTOR entity is just going to throw money into pan in a meaningful way. Reason being, government do not want to set a precedent of giving financial hand-outs, and the private sector is all about their ROI, return on investment. When they give money they see it as an investment and they fully expect to see a profit. For steelbands to tap into this they have to be organized and demonstrate that PAN has the potential to make money. Individual bands are terribly well organized but the PAN MOVEMENT in and of itself is not. Getting organized is definitely Phase 1.

Hi Cecil, as usual GREAT topic! Without getting too verbose, I would like to share my dad's view on steelband "sponsors. George "Sonny" Goddard did not like the idea of sponsorship. Period! He felt that the benefits and rewards heavily favored the "sponsor", and further sentenced the steelbands to a life of DEPENDENCY. He felt that such an arrangement really only favoured the sponsor, and not necessarily the steelbands. I also share that view, and I believe that NO ONE is going to care about you more than you. Why would the steelbands need their sponsors to "teach (them) how to operate as a business"? Why can't the steelbands develop their own pedagogy? Is that dependence reality that has been the Achilles Heel of the steelbands in Trinidad and Tobago, for EVERY musical group in history that became "successful", did so by defining their own terms. From the Classics to Rap/Hip Hop. BTW - Your suggestions, are EXACTLY what the "Blueprint" identifies and addresses. I love your ideas!!!



Hi Ghostly One, as always great input. You have really hit the nail squarely on the head with Sonny's belief that sponsorship creates dependency. From different commentaries I have heard, the consensus of opinion seems to be that sponsors money is the only way bands can be funded. The idea of bands being self-sufficient has now become some alien concept. The younger generation of pan musicians have no idea that in the early days the only funding for pan was blood, sweat and tears. That is the main reason why players were so much more passionate about the instrument than they are now.

Thanks, Foy. Apparently, we need to differentiate between "support" and "sponsorship". We need to understand the relationship between "owner" and "worker" in a Capitalist environment. Thousands of small private companies get "support" in starting up and other business-related needs. Many of their "workers" are represented by unions, and in situations where these "workers" do not have unions, we find higher levels of exploitation (at the hands of the "owner" or "owners"). Agreed, steelbands (and pan) are a part of our culture, but who is to say that we cannot make an "industry" out of that culture? Basketball, is a game; a sport that is a part of American culture. They turned that culture into an industry. Basketball, to the "professional" is now MORE than a game, regardless of how much he or she loves to play (it). The NBA player, understands that, with ALL his millions, he not only needs a "business plan" and a business team (of accountants, attorneys, etc.), but he also needs union representation, because, in reality, he is (no more than) a paid worker. So, he has a "body" that represents him on the negotiation table, to ensure that he is fairly treated and not exploited. That is the model that my dad created with the National Association of Trinidad and Tobago Steelbandsmen (NATTS), and history records that he attempted to begin alignments with the American Federation of Musicains (AFM). The AFM is a union for musicians, and multi-millionaires like Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones are STILL members! (What does that tell us?) I can ONLY imagine what the climate would be like for the local panman and panwoman of Trinidad and Tobago today, if they had taken my dad's advice yesterday...

Finally, as to Glenroy's comment on disagreeing that sponsorship is "negative", and that other musical groups being sponsored by "millionaire patrons", I think that some clarification is necessary. Firstly, we do not see these "art houses, operas and...orchestras" with the sponsoring company's logos, trademarks and other forms of advertising all over the players instruments and clothing. When these philanthropists donate money and resources to the arts, it is usually not in a "sponsor-sponsored" relationship. In many cases, these are "non-profit" donations, and the contributions are tax-deductible for the person or company making the donation. I have not yet heard ANY "art houses, operas..." or "orchestras" (besides steel orchestras) with the name of the "sponsor" being a part of either of them. I do not see any of these entities being used as human billboards, or their instruments being used as advertising mediums. (The Burger King New York Philharmonic? I don't think so.) Again, the "Blueprint" presents ideas which many know are great foundations on which to build, but (for whatever reasons) refuse to embrace it and engage with it. Hopefully, those who are genuine to "do something for pan", will take a look at it. In any event, the "powerless", "dependent" model will continue to yield the results we have witnessed over the past 50 years; namely, NOTHING for the local panman and panwoman (i.e. the steelband "worker"). Ghost.

So, Ghost!!! You have a lot of confidence in your BLUEPRINT. Why don't you take it down to Tinidad and personally start presenting it to the various entities that constitute the integrated PAN WORLD? Set up some meetings with a few major sponsors, a few city bands, a few country bands, the UWI engineering team, TTUTA, The Ministry of Culture, Sanch Electronics, Pan Trinbago, some pan loving media personnel, et al.

Get the project off the ground! If you could win over a few disciples during the escapade, then they can continue to do the groundwork as the project develops, without you even being hands-on. That would be a good starting point in getting others to embrace it and engage with it.



"The profit motive,  when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition  and selfish ambition  that inspires men to be more concerned  about making a living than making a life." Martin Luther King, Jr. (What are YOU "concerned about making"? A "living", or a "life"?) BTW - The steel drum/pan is not "the only instrument that someone gets to play without owning one". There are NUMEROUS schools where children not only get to play their instruments, but get to take them home to practice. I'm not sure about Trinidad and Tobago, but here in South Florida, kids get to play instruments they do not own besides pan. (Especially recorders, which are cheap; almost EVERY budget can afford one.) Ghost.

Getting steelbands to do something for themselves will not be an easy task after decades of dependency, a few are already doing good work lets hope the rest will see the benefits of coming together and sharing information, because  of changing times they are being left behind.

Hi Cecil, the UNITED NEGRO COLLEGE FUND (UNCF) ran a campaign years ago with what I considered to be one of the great slogans of all times. It said, 'We are not asking for hand-outs, just a hand." If the pan world would embrace this line of thinking, knuckle-down and make a concerted effort to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining we could take pan to the next level.



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