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Has anything changed eleven years later? -- Revisited - The Demise of the Steelband Panorama - and the Possible Solution by Nestor Sullivan

by Nestor Sullivan 

Global - This year, 2010, steelbands in England participating in the Panorama at the Notting Hill Carnival, played for free. That is, the bands received no monies for appearance fees or for prizes. It is reported that this was due to the economic melt-down now being experienced in that country.

According to Nestor Sullivan, manager of Trinidad and Tobago’s Pamberi Steel Orchestra, all the territories where an annual steelband Panorama is held, tend to follow the lead of Trinidad and Tobago, whose nationals dominate the technical and related sides of most of the events. The country’s nationals have transported the Panorama to territories around the world, creating a potential global industry in the process. Nonetheless, contends Sullivan, we are now experiencing the rapid demise of the Panorama, the biggest event on global steelband calendars.

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Beautiful, well said. What you outlined is a great approach and one that i am ready to support and promote. This instrument is for he world and all of us must do what we can to help it onto the world stage.
Most of the contributors to this discussion has made some salient points, but it must be noted that Panorama is the only pan show that has such a very large following and audience locally and Internationally , no one can tell me of any other pan show that has such a following. If we think backwards thats where we would go backwards. The incentive that Panorama offers the bands has become very lucrative in T&T and its still growing. We must also remember because of Panorama we have discovered many young talented tuners, players and arrangers. We cant demonize the Panorama Competition, the amout of pans that are tuned also is inportant, there are many more instruments available because of Panorama. Many of our young people have travelled to various Countries with their steelbands because of Panorama. Its easy to find fault with something that works rather than try to improve on it. Panorama annually employs thousands of people, it also keeps many young people focused on something positive during the Carnival season. I can go on and on about the benifits of Panorama. Be wise and dont throw out the baby with the bathwater.We still have a long way to go with our pan. Let good sense prevail and let Panorama continue to grow!!!
I agree with your perspective of panorama as a magnet for the myriad traveling pannists. However, I think that it is important to note, that pan is addictive in an emotional and physiological way (specifically the effect of the harmonic and sonic interactions with the brain). As such, is it will be the habit of the addict to sate his/her addiction. So those with veracious appetites will travel (often to our financial detriment) abroad to play in whatever venue we are most welcome. Not only do we enjoy the aspect of germinating cross cultural musical intercourse, we get to connect to a primal state of community by sharing the experience with strangers (if at least strangers at first).

I agree that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water... However, I believe that the baby (pannist) has been rinsed brackish, fecal-infested water (politics, robbery, in-fighting) so long that it refuses to look for the soap anymore. I say this to mean, that the reason Panorama is faltering is because it wasn't properly formulated to begin with.

Sidd... I somewhat disagree that pan competition began with Panorama. From my modest knowledge of pan history, Panorama became a "civilized" outlet for the "less-tempered" personalities to express the rivalries the previously held with cutlasses, bottles, whips and chains on the road. Pan has always been an entity of struggle and revolution. It has been an outlet, vent and most importantly MIRROR to those that have cherished it.
If you want to know the economic, political and/or Intellectual state of your community, LOOK TO THE STEELBAND THAT IT SUPPORTS!... I dare anyone you to disagree..

We can now shake hands in agreement...lol
One alternative is to develop a Players Panorama. This could be a talent competition showcased as a face-off between different sections of the steel orchestra. Just imagine, the 9 - Bass finals, that ought to be fun to watch!.
just a few hours ago I was asked by sevral persond about the pan , "what is it called?" I proudly said STEEL PAN, and the mother who was with her kids said is that P-A-N I said yes and she is an American, and did not ask me if ia said "P-O-N" I am headed somewhere with this the ignorant America will say he meant pan an in p-o-n, we fail to direct it so now the outside world is trying to direct it, she and others asked me how will I discribe this instrument and I told them it was more an inovation more than an invention, it was created by necessity, it is a steel pan not a plastic and other materiels pan, it still is the only new acoustic musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century, they made a similar tool for saxaphone players like the E pan and the Phi, and others, but they have not replaced the sax because it is not brass, it is a tool so sid and others that is not a pan, if somebody would build an electronic attachement to a real pan as they do with the electric acoustic and the electric bass and electric bass which uses real strings fret boards bridges etc and still is a stringed instrument, the current electronic devices are not pans and is a very good gear for pan players, will not further the movement into the fiscal and musical world, nothing wrong with panorama, it needs an overhauling, there are so many areas needs to be addressed in the movement, Kruent it has not moved out of T n t as a matter of fact it hasn't moved at all since the mid 1990's, musically we have lost our presentation we now have granulated pan just like the sugar too refined, no flavour, still sweet, after listening to you tube, it seems that the players are just hitting notes and only when some pieces play fast you get any real execution of songs,currently there is an identity crisis musically, it is just a jam session no expression, all the pannist that horse around with the Epan and the Phi are just trying to play fast meaningless phrases and there is little or no variety, except Duvone stuart, as fra as the ecconomic and promotional aspect, that is the real serious mess, on the outside you got a pan hustle instead of a business enterprise, and in TnT is still "rum and roti"too much arrogance, ignorance, back biting, bob ball, comess etc,since I have started sharing panorama videos most of my non trini friends, pan players etc have gotten the hots for panorama "when and where is the next one?" big question little answer,the small mindedness is just of the big setbacks. our movers and shakers are penny wise and pound foolish,whilst they line their pockets with loose change little entrepernauers are making inroads into non pan teritory the wrong ways,
big sands you are funny, a 9 bass finals lmao, but seriuosly one year they gave out prizes in certain areas like best dressed, best flag waver, best rythym section and the standards in those areas were lifted, I already suggested that the panorama be changed to a festival and have it like an awards night, and that night you have best tenor section best whatever section, best arrangement best, perfromance, best interpretation, the arguments will never be settled people argue on the basis of music mainly, but the contest is on several elements, plus the judges hear the band itself whilst the audience hears the sound system, which can make a difference, the players are fierce but not loving the music, I wish i had a tape of a new york panorama where you could hear a lady mouting the repeat of a part just after she shouted oh goooush! them days gone when panorama was an assult on the senses as Dalton Narine once described it, the hype still there, it is still in a small community, inspite of the large following of Jimmy Buffet, where a lot of people get to hear Robert greenidge it is still in a relatively small circle, we need to polish up on our presentation, if i were playing a timbales people would not bug me to try it, respect will make them resist, those who get lucky to see how pan is made usually have respect for it, but most people look at as a novelty a play thing, because pan hardly shows up in too many grand events,some rappers use electronically created noises that sound like pan and the childish presentation makes people think it is a toy, we hold grand events and do not try to involve the external community, not invite dignatries,if pan was a Jamaican thing it would be out there because Jamaica pushes it self, they push so hard that most of us caribbean people are allways asked if we from jamaica, because Jamaica made them selves visible,there are some non caribbean people trying to make it visible but pan by sound has a strong caribbean accent, and will not change,we need to be handing out instead of waiting for handouts, what we need to hand out invitations, history, promotions etc basically we have to push harder, bands in the states are no longer trying to make an outreach into their communities instead they import players from TnT
Talk, talk and more taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalk where are the CD's and DVD's for the 2010 New York Panorama this is the internet age Panorama has a PRODUCT all you bright people develop a Business plan and make some money.
Andre the New York 2010 Panorama DVD was available less than 24 hours after the panorama. You can purchase a copy from WIADCA.
And it's not even advertised or promoted on this forum.

So how can we be sure the panist will get the majority of the money from the sale of these DVDs?
Why isn't Basement Recordings doing an audio CD?
From what I heard on the night I would not consider the audio quality from WIADCA the best on the night.
Maybe the internet stream was not the best medium to replicate the sound of barrel.

I had originally posted this on my WST page as a commentary during the recent Toronto civic elections. It's very relevant to this blog, so I've added it below with the 'vote for me' parts removed.

Hi, Folks!

One of my personal concerns as a steel pan player in a city that honours Carnival with three major parades and more than a week of celebration and competitions --with people from all over the world attending-- is what's going on between city administrations all over North America and West Indian community Carnival organizers in terms of acknowledgement and funding. You've read the reports in the "Pan Times" and "When Steel Talks". (Since writing this, I've noticed that the problem is more world-wide than I had previously been aware of.)

Clearly many US cities do not understand the value Carnival celebrations bring them. Recently, we've had problems organizing Carifiesta in Montreal. Whether they're called Panorama, Caribfest, Caribana, Carifiesta, or Carnival, the celebrations are an enormous source of wealth to any city so fortunate as to have a community active enough to organize this event. And fun? Where else can an entire city get involved in jumping up and celebration?

Toronto's difficulties with our own Caribana every August revolve mainly around funding. While every tourist venue (hotels, restaurants and night clubs, shops) benefits from the attending crowds in the downtown core where the festival is held, literally none of the extra millions of dollars in earnings gained by those businesses (except the individual vendors licenced by the city to sell knick-knacks, crafts, and West Indian foods) makes its way back to the festival treasury.

In Toronto, we have a King and Queen, Caribana, Junior Caribana, and Samba parades, and Pan Alive [our Panorama steel band play-off] along with a week of stage shows all over the city and Limin' together at a huge picnic on the Toronto Islands. We call it Toronto Caribana. [To paraphrase When Steel Talks, "When Toronto hosts Caribana, EVERYBODY comes out to celebrate!"]

I think that the city should apply a special tax on tourist venues in the downtown core, with a clause that prevents them from raising their rates (any more than they have historically for large events) to cover the new tax, so that visitors don't get hit with it; and that the city set that money aside to support the mas bands and Caribana events from a city-managed fund as advised by the organizers.

...and for the purposes of this page, I'll add...

Moreover, as Caribana and other cultural, religious, various secular, and fine arts celebrations are an important part of Toronto life, I propose the establishment of an incorporated city Celebration Commission with a board of governors gleaned from the celebration communities in the cultural and fine arts, with an appointed member of council and the Mayor as principal members, responsible to the city to ensure the successful promotion, staging and funding of all celebrations, parades, and festivals.

Toronto loves and cherishes its multiculturalism. It has recently been heralded as the most multi-cultural city in the world. Our multi-cultural and other similar celebrations are extremely well-attended.

The city boasts three arts nights celebrations, several large annual parades ranging from religious origins (Sikh and Christian-origin celebrations being the largest), to civic holiday parades, an annual cleanup-the-city day, and the Caribana festival and parade grouping. We used to have an annual "Toronto Caravan" festival celebrating the city's vast wealth of varied cultures with private groups of people from each country of origin sponsoring a 'pavilion' featuring their cuisine, arts & crafts, dance, and a 'king and queen', Visitors would purchase a 'passport' that entitled them to ride free on the city buses that ran continually between the pavilions, and get it stamped at each pavilion they visited to keep as a souvenir of the visit; and that might be brought back by a commission as well. We even have a separate annual Trinidad & Tobago celebration in the park adjoining the Ontario legislature buildings, which are located in Toronto.

The point is not just that generally unrelated businesses gain exclusively from the festivals, and that's not an equitable situation; but also that the city benefits from maintaining them in a dozen different ways. Our various festivals require a fair special-tax-subsidized funding in whatever manner is necessary to ensure celebrations represent a good time with happy celebrants all-round. A commission can set up the bureaucracy necessary to smooth the way to successful events, open them for continued growth, and make that required funding a certainty.

I would recommend that other cities consider this path of encouragement for their similar celebrations as a means of capitalizing them without increasing the existing tax burden. The rewards for host cities are self-evident.


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