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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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Interesting approach Nestor! The only way the politicians will listen is if the movement demonstrates political strength and this does not necessarily mean being part of a ruling party or parties. It means that the movement must demonstrate that it can mobilise political resources in such a way that it cannot be ignored.

In a capitalist environment do not believe that because you were initially responsible for a multi-million dollar industry those who make the profits are going to be grateful to you and accept moral responsibility for you eating a food. You must not only demand your share using morally strong arguments, you must be able to secure your share by the political argument of your strength. All else is illusion - spinnin' top in mud!
Greetings All,
The analogy to the beginning of the solution of these problems lay in two directions: One is realizing that Panorama is providing a product/scenario for revenue generation and must be compensated as an agent/provider of such; which means 15 to 25% off the top. Secondly the negotiator must have the interest of Steelband and Pan-people at heart. We all understand recession and things, but we must also have Dollars and "Sense"
Love, Respect and Unity, Breddren andSistren......Rico I
While we can feel sorry for ourselves, no one owes us anything. Over the years we have not challenged the systems in different parts of the world. We still elect leaders in our organisations based on friendly principles and not on the ability to get the job done. We in the movement still consider ourselves better than others Have we evolved whether we are in Trinidad and Tobago, England, USA, Canada or wherever there is PAN? If, in Trinidad and Tobago the birthplace of the PAN, where we are always begging, there is distrust and lack of accountability in most of the organisations. The pan fraternity still does not have offices of their own. It is quite clear that those in charge are settling for mediocrity We do not have RESPECT for ourselves and as a result, no one will have respect for us. We have to encourage steelbands to have strong roots going deep into the system, wherever we are, our trunk must be so wide and stout that whenever branches are formed, they will bear much fruit. To date we are unable to write the history of the steelband, all bands want to take credit, all tuners want to be first for developing a certain instrument Yet there people still around who in their limited knowledge can remember certain facts of their time. Nothing is been done in so many areas of our continued development. Sorry, this site is one of the most greatest improvements of the pan and panman, linking technology and the instrument. However, this has been developed out of Trinidad and Tobago, but CONGRATULATIONS on making a most positive move for the instrument. It would be nice if lots more information as the presentation by Oscar Pile be posted.I am deeply saddened by what took place in london, but everything went ahead as normal, so we know what to expect in the future.
Mr Nestor Sullivan I agree with most of the things you say, but having lived in England since the autumn of 1966, I know that local authorities and governing bodies understand only one thing. That is the importance of money.
The answer is simple, in my very parochial view. In the case of Notting Hill, which I have always said was hijacked by migrants with little or no experience of a Trinidad carnival, the only recourse would be to boycott the proceedings. Probably much harder to do than say but we have to understand, if an event contributes £100m (a very conservative estimate) annually, and you reduce the”Grant “ from £150000 to £30000 then one can only presume there is some major profiteering going on.
If I’m not mistaken on the 1 August 1838 the British Empire finally freed the slaves all be it 5 years after the Act of Parliament. Then why not refuse to participate until the Carnival and all its constituent parts are given a substantial share in the proceeds.
Withdraw the Mas, Steelbands and Calypso and Soca events and see how the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea get by. It can’t be for just one year either, after the first boycott. It should be left in a state of uncertainty so that no one knows whether to attend or not. Then they will sit up and take notice.
Nothing is ever achieved without some sacrifice and Trinis missing out on Notting Hill Carnival or a year or two is a small price to pay to ram home the point.
Believe you me when I say 2 million will not attend a Reggae Sound System festival on any day, let alone an August bank holiday in England, the last bank holiday before Christmas.

Randi S Curvan
Here in the UK, Panorama used to be the end of the steelband calendar. A time pan people could let their hair down and fete.
The big problem we have is that their is not much else to work towards.
No Festival, Very few blocko's. Gigs are really for solo and duo players.
I believe this is what happen's when you don't plan for the future. by now panorama should at least be 50% self funded,not kneeling down with a begging bowl asking big boss if we can have some money. Of course they are going to say no. As for all these pan organisations coming together to get us out of this crisis is a joke because they kind of put us here in the first place.

Randisc the one problem about pulling out of the carnival is this, it is quite apparent that carnival has been taken over musically by radio stations like kiss fm, choice fm and the BBC. Sadley it looks like they don't need us and don't want us
there is no easy solution especially with steelbands, the world is still in the dark about steelbands, the pan is making its way into the society at large but the steelband is still undiscovered teritory, it is a potentially viable industry but very hard to manage and promote, big bands on the whole are getting harder to market, however in my town they recently opened new venues for big bands and orchestras to hold concerts and festivals and the results is magnamious, there is money there but the problem is getting it on the agenda, we still keeping it in the box and like some church activities which remain in house with little or no responses we focus only on private events, panoramas is still something for pan players and pan lovers, and we need to broaden our scope, we do have a lot of cultural setbacks, our attitudes have not changed over the years, permit me to cross reference,where would boogsie sharp be if peter alleong, tardarth, mikey philips and others did not form Phase II,if birch did not recomend Jit Samaroo to renegades, if Bertie Marshall was discouraged when they told him he was "spoiling the pans" there is a lot of talent amongst us a lot unknown talent, we need to swallow our pride and consult with the people who are promoting pan and similar products outside of the trinbago circuit and not template them but consolidate with our ambitions,for example a lot of people want to get a hang drum that costs $5,000 with a 2 year waiting list, as opposed to a $500-1500 pan, the hang people are reaching people easier than most of us, as much as some people detest panyard they are also reaching a broader base than we do, I once saw an American guy shake his head in a steel band panorama as he said "such a waste" it is sad.The demi god attitude needs to go, the pan world needs to find a location on the globe and enjoy the ride instead of trying to have the globe revolve around it, if so it will become the dog or cat chasing its tail
sincerest apollogies comming back so soon , here is a brainstorm we are all on the internet, we have friends and fans, and we like pan or else we would navigate away from this page, so why don't each of us share at least 1 or 2 clips of steel bands once or twice a week, from you tube with some friends who not into pan on our various social network pages , Face book etc, I mean we have a lot of fantastic clips out there,
Mr. Sullivan.....

I thank you for this passionate and well researched overview of what is indeed a very serious situation. if we don't take control of our steelband heritage we will certainly loose it ...... and it is up to us, not them to address this situation.

In the UK, we sold out to the GLA when Clare Holder and others were ousted from the NH Trust leadership .....now our Carnival is an embarassment to us and we are have made ourselves the laughing stock of ACE and GLA by demeaning our own values and standards......all they do these days is periodically scatter some public crumbs in our direction for us to fight over

Nobody among us is prepared to take responsibility ..... we have definitely got what we deserve. I await some meaningful movement in the direction of our reclaiming some self-respect in the eyes of these authorities. We have allowed them to walk all over us ..... so therefore I believe, if we are to recover some modicum of self preservation we will have to wake up and fight for it!

I am so sorry to rant ....and I am still to vexed about the whole situation to even start thinking about creating solutions that might address this malaise position we now find ourselves in

You speak well and your recommendations are good....but do our Caribbean governments really care about our culture.....steelband or otherwise ....most just pay lip service ...... can't we see that if we don't do something about this situation, no one else will.....and before we know it , we will have lost the best cultural pursuit that we ever had ..... and guess what..... no one will give a shit!
here here
Kudos for your informative and thought provoking article , Mr. Sullivan. You have obviously given a lot of thought to the subject matter, and have come up with some viable solutions.

I would like to add a few thoughts of my own.

One of the errors we make is trying to look at individual steelbands and steelband associations as potential stand alone business ventures capable of supporting themselves and generating revenue.

The steelband is capable of generating revenue, but it is not business.

It is art.

Art does generate revenue, but much of it is indirect, and not as easy to quantify. Consider for example how many people visit art museums, concert and opera houses and other places where art is appreciated.

Airlines, hotels, restaurants and municipalities all profit from these entities, profits which do not necessarily go to the artists.

The art forms are entitled to share in the revenue generated.

Apart from the art, the steelband is a community resource and should be supported as such by community and taxpayers.

These facts may not be as obvious to politicians and community leaders as one would think.

Comprehensive proposals including statistical evidence where possible need to be prepared and presented to office holders, elected and other community leaders.

They need to be advised of the role the steelband plays in the community , both in generating revenue and as a community asset; and of the need for community and taxpayers support.

Steelband members and their supporters number in the thousands, there is no reason why steelbands cannot effectively wield political pressure to sit at the table with the powers and be heard.

Incidents like the one at Sonata's pan yard need to be addressed at higher levels, not just discussed endlessly in this forum.

All art forms need sponsorship and community support to thrive.

In the international steelband community , there is a leadership vacuum.

Over the years, pan people have always wondered about the direction and future of pan. Well, "wey pan reach" in the future depends on what we do today.

Pan People worldwide are waiting and hoping that the parent steelband body, Pantrinbago will accept the challenge and assume the mantle of leadership.

If PanTrinbago cannot rise to the occasion , then leadership will have to come from elsewhere, say Europe, North America or even from places that are newer to the art form, like for example, Japan.

Fortunately, insightful leaders like Mr. Nestor Sullivan give us hope.
Very interesting article. However, I think Panorama may have to die for Pan to live. I think during Carnival Pan is not seen any where, but in the Panyard drilling. Just imagine for two or three months they are working on one tune that last only 10 minutes. Pan could be out there playing at different venues and making money. The big trucks make all the money. When Pan come on the road they can only play the Panorama tune. They are not prepared with any other tune. Its carnival, people want to hear pan. Pan is no where to be seen. Pan should greet people at the airport in Trinidad when you arrived. Pan should be at the parks, pan should be in the savanah, pan should be playing in schools, pan should be on the road. Maybe instead of panorama have the bands play two three tunes for less time. Many people come to tnt to hear and see that instrument called Pan, so lets not keep it in the panyard. They need to be out making money. Not just competing for one big price and still they are broke. Keep up the good work Mr. Sullivan
mr. joseph, i agree with you that pan is an art and that (unfortunately) art does not tend to be terribly lucrative. you've raised very important points in your response that i hope the powers that be will heed.

to mr. sullivan, as the editor of 365antigua.com, i was very interested to read your article including the state of pan in antigua and barbuda. could you please contact me directly at editor@365antigua.com? our website would love to raise the profile of pan in the country and you're definitely the person to help us do so. cheers!


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