When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

The Way Forward For Small and Medium Steelbands in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019

It is apparent that Large Sponsored Bands will weather the storm this year. However small and medium band will have a challenge.

Eight years ago (2011) the  M. Sc  Thesis " Human Capital In Conventional Steel Orchestras in Trinidad & Tobago" was presented to Pan Trinbago with the following  recommendations.  I appeal to the present President  and  Executive to read and consider.

Recommendations  for Policy

 In order for steelbands to move  from the status of non-profit organization to a self-sustaining  enterprise there must be a cultural change within the organization. This would include changes in beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of its membership, governing bodies, as well as changes in management practices. 

The extent to which these issues are addressed by the local governing bodies need to be consistently articulated and pursued aggressively.  There is evidence that similar structures  have been implemented by stakeholders in metropolitan countries.  For example,   Steelband Business Seminars have been held at Basement Recordings studios in New York City.

It is acknowledged that some steelbands have made an effort to change and elevate their status. Those that have aggressively pursued the challenge are witnessing favourable results; making them the recurrent successful steelbands in terms of performance at competitions and reputation.  However  good performance and reputation helps to retain sponsorship which in itself may weaken the drive for self-sufficiency and profiteering.  In my view this may create a dangerous mind set of dependence which inadvertently undermines the full potential of the instrument as a tool for economic growth. 

The data have shown that there is a relationship between sponsorship and the level of human capital in some areas. They have also shown that the ability to facilitate training and development may depend on the  availability of funds.  The possibility of dwindling sponsorship in the present time of economic fluctuations is a major cause for concern.

What is needed is an element of reconditioning so that the general population would be willing to incorporate the art form in more of their activities.  This may be achieved through aggressive marketing strategies. To a greater extent, the managers of these organizations need to be able to exhibit competence in contract negotiations to secure lucrative  deals for band members both locally and abroad. Bands members on the other hand must be in a state of readiness to take advantage of the opportunities that are created  within the local market as well as those offered outside  of Trinidad and Tobago. 

The following interventions are recommended for the achievement of such objectives:

  • The establishment of a research department within the Ministry of Culture and well as Pan-Trinbago to monitor and evaluate activities of steel orchestras such as training activities and fund-raising ventures.
  • The establishment of a vibrant marketing unit within government structures which would liaise with international consulates, entertainment promoters, tour operators, university and colleges to secure teaching and performing contracts.


  • The establishment of an Institution of Steelband Management the portfolio of which, would include the following;


  1. Increase the proportion of bands that have members with formal management training from 58% to at least 80% over a five year period, and at least 95% over a ten year period.
  2. Increase the proportion of bands that have within their management structures at least  33% of qualified persons  from 27% to  50% over a five year period to 80% over a ten year period.
  • Assist bands with financial development in the area fund-raising and contract negotiations.


  • Email addresses should be made compulsory for all bands. These addresses should be structured and standardized to facilitate communication among bands and other organizations. For example,  tt.desperadoes@gmail.com,  and   pan.tt.pandemonium@gmail.com.


  • The creation of more incentives for persons to embark on pan technology courses. The data showed that there was a very small proportion ( 1%) of persons within bands qualified or trained in this area.
  • The occupational status of the greater proportions of stage side members fit into the category of  employed or attending school full time.  This suggests that development courses should be available in part-time  (day and evening) and weekend options.

Contact me at statseasy@yahoo.com  for more information on the thesis.

Views: 527

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

UHmm...I for one as a steetband manager of a medium steelband,..would be very very interested to read and digest what appears to be a seminal document by the author, in charting the way forward for the period 2019-2021. Much thanks Ms. Marina Smith

I have noticed in the last 10yrs there have been changes in carnival and all I have been seeing is fete gone calypso tent gone good mas gone and soon steelbands will suffer because of greed by the arrangers and tuners 

Not fair to target arrangers and tuners alone. There's plenty of greed blame to go around to other members of bands. C'mon now.

I'm speaking from experience not hearsay I know about steelbands 

No one speaks of "single pan" bands, is there a subtle attempt in some circles to get rid of 'em?

With all due respects to your comment, the recommendations can also be applied to Single Pan Bands not withstanding the fact  thesis was based on conventional bands. 

For consideration:

Why are there small and medium steelbands?

Given the current situation, it may be useful to go back to the 1960s and 1970s where there was only one category.

A central tenet of capitalism is creative destruction--survival of the fittest.

It's time for bands small and medium steelbands to consider mergers and consolidation.

Only a thought.

Only a thought whoa are you for real


© 2020   Created by When Steel Talks.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service