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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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Good morning Everyone:

A big problem with Caribbean and especially Black Folks is that we tend to depend on the crumbs which fall from the table of the extremely delicious finger-licking dinner which we've just prepared.

Everything is political.

As long as we continue to beggggg for handouts, instead of combine our resources (Pan Yards, Mas Camps, vendors, masqueraders, organizers, promoters, and spectators) and engage in constructive DEMANDS at the negotiating table of those who control the purse strings, then we'll continually be disrespected and financially disenfranchised by especially those politicians, who control the $$$$$$. Elected and appointed officials know exactly how much $$$ is generated by these Carnivals. Organizers and participants must demand to see the Books to determine how much income these events generate for each city/county/state? They have the figures. We need to have them in our possessions so we can use these figures to make our demands on how some of those funds can be best utilized to benefit our communities.

3 million people have been gathering on Eastern Parkway for over thirty years, if each person on The Parkway spent (let's say $100) to attend the many parties, fetes, Museum events, Kiddies Carnival, and the Parade of the Bands, then you're talking about $300 million dollars.

Now this is an extremely conservative estimate as you can well imagine. Why? Because I've not included plane, train, and bus fares of those coming from other states and nations. What about hotel and other travel expenses such as car rentals, gas, and subway fares?

With 3 million on The Parkway, why is the subway system running on a Sunday schedule?

What about the amount of food and drink consumed by these visitors during their stay?

We are in a very powerful financial position to make demands on these politicians, but we do not maximize on our potential. Why the politicians? Practically every office holder in NY State appear on The Parkway, especially during the election season. And what do they do? Smile and wave. Why should they lead off the parade? Why aren't these politicians jumping and waving in the bands?

Unless we hold these office holders financially accountable for the success of these Carnivals, then we have no one else to blame but ourselves for the demise or failures of these festivities.

NYC has double-decker buses which tour throughout the City. Why aren't we reaching out to these bus companies to include the Pan Yards, Mas Camps and even the Backyard of the Museum in their routes?

In my opinion, over $1 billion is raised during the Labor Day season, with the City appreciating at least 5% in tax revenues. Then why don't the Pan Yards and Mas Camps own their own buildings? Considering the current economic climate, why aren't buildings being made available to the Pan Yards and Mas Camps with City, State and Federal funding to minimize their purchasing and upkeep expenditures?

As long as we continue to play softball with these politicians, then there is no way on God's green earth that we can ever make it to the World Series. So you're a Soccer fan? If we continue to play small goal post games, how can we ever expect to play in the World Cup? Only after we've raised our goals, ambitions, and expectations, can these Carnivals prosper.

Thanks for your interest, and please remember to tune into my program on Monday, November 15th, 3-5 am on 99.5 FM in the NY Tri-State area or log onto www.wbai.org.

Stephen The Road Warrior
Hi there Stephen, all of your points are well stated and well taken. Please note that this is not a direct response to your comments. This is just a general observation. We keep on missing the point and I keep on harping on the same old refrain. WE NEED TO GET ORGANIZED. We need to understand how the system works and then adapt strategies that will make the system works for us. You have to understand that if a politician can do dirt in the dark, especially when money is being made, he will do more dirt that you would imagine. The moment that you shine a light on his actions, he is forced to come clean. Most of the comments that we get on discourses such as this one, is noting more than emotioms without the benefit of intellect. Something goes down and we get this knee-jerk reaction of individuals calling for a boycott and the rest of the bush-league tatics. We will be having this same discussion, fighting these same old battles for the next hundred years, until we get organized. Here is some food for thought. What do you think would happen if someone would take the time to put a petition together stating our case, and we hit the pavement in our spare time and gather a few thousand signatures, make an appointment to go meet with the mayor and send a delegation to go meet with him? In the mean time send an annonymous tip to the media stating what is going on. What would happen if we do the same with the Governor. We are all tax-payers, they would be forced to pay attention to our plight. What would happen if we get a police permit to have a major rally and all steelband gather in a park with placards, banners etc and present ourselves as a united front to be reckoned with. The media coverage alone would force them to pay attention. This is the type of engagement we need for us to be taken seriously. Just coming into this forum, airing our views and get frustrated is NOT going to get it done. PS please dump the emotions and approach situations with a rational thought pattern.
What would happen if there was a mass boycott of Carnival and Panorama in the US - the UK and Canada.......for 1 year - Can you imagine what would happen to the money that traditionally goes to the cities - I bet a few city officials would stop and think??????


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