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I read the words of recently elected Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore promising to make our pan industry viable: “...We will ensure that that drum-making factory...will bring in millions, upon millions, upon millions so that our players won’t have to look for a $500.”

Other figures associated with pan are just as bewildering – $100,000 to transport a band from San Fernando to Port of Spain, $200,000 to sponsor a relatively small band, $500,000 for a large band to prepare for Panorama.

However, after more than 80 years of evolution, the numbers still do not add up.

Four is the number of years since the last international conference on pan took place at the Hyatt, Port of Spain...naturally. Topics included the Business of Pan, Pan Manufacturing, even a discussion on the way that notes are laid out. Zero is the number of papers or policy positions that I have seen from that undoubtedly expensive gathering.

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Numbers can be manipulated to justify any fantasy.

Ah doh know why Aquil Arrindell and dem other PAN PLAYERS grumbling and complaining so much about $500.

Look, Beverley Ramsey-Moore say just: "HOLD STRAIN!!!"

Everybody prematurely judging this Messianic Leader who "will ensure that that drum-making factory...will bring in millions, upon millions, upon millions so that our players won’t have to look for a $500.

And she will transform every PAN YARD in Trinidad and Tobago (especially Tobago) into a CENTER OF EXCELLENCE.

Look: BEVERLEY is a HERO (sent by the Lord from heaven above to integrate the STEELBAND with PEACE, PAN PROGRESS, MILLIONS and LOVE -- ah tief dem lines from Sparrow, Marcus)... she ain't NO ZERO!!!

Go and ask Richard Forteau what does a flying chair coming straight at you looks like.....when yuh playing de ass with poor people money.. Doh come an talk hard and try to bully the membership and forcefeed we line bout hold strain....RockSoWidDat....go and bring my players 2018 remittance...lest we going to find out where green wheat and barley does grow quicktime tomorrow at 2pm at CWU....Talk Done
Several thesis/proposals/documents have been developed to confront the perpetual financial crisis that face the long-term survival and vision of a successful steelpan industry for Trinidad and Tobago. (see eg. Daily Express: September 21, 1996, page 19 - “Time’s Ripe for a Steelband Institute” Nestor Sullivan and Ian ‘Teddy’ Belgrave, “The Business of Pan”, Nestor Sullivan, July 22, 2017, UTT, Trinidad; Salah Wilson 10th October 2014, “The Concept of a Ministry for Steelpan for Trinidad & Tobago (5th International Steelpan Conference 10-12th October 2014, London), several MSc dissertations, UWI etc).
Over the years a relatively small number of steelbands have become highly successful in T & T and some have gone on to a become global phenomena. Unlike steelbands based in the diaspora, company sponsorships in T & T have underpinned their success for decades and may enable them to remain buoyant in the foreseeable future but for many of the unsponsored bands in particular, the future looks bleak. With the monetary shortfall so evident this year, there is more public disquiet and commentators such as Dara E. Healy openly expounded her dismay, 74 years after “VE Day, March 8 1945 when “the steelband was presented to the world for the first time”. She further alluded to the highly promising but “zero” output international conference on steelpan at the Hyatt, 2015 which included a significant component of business and international corporation from experts such as the UWI Con¬sult¬ing Com¬pa¬ny and Pan¬land T&T Lim¬it¬ed. Unfortunately, while other European countries had representation, the UK, where there is a natural link were notably absent.
In a low post-oil dependent economy, the prognosis is gloomy, thus there is an urgent need to seek new income streams for steelpan and an accompanying industry. PM Keith Rowley expressed his concerns in London on 23rd April 2018 and appealed to the diaspora for support as the country faced huge fiscal challenges. He indicated a major shift towards tourism to bolster foreign exchange but was aware of the hurdles of this fledgling industry due to the lack of infrastructure in a highly competitive business.
However, it might be in this broarder context that the commercial benefits of a steelband industry for T&T could be re-examined. Is it too late to re-consider developing the “drum-making factory” when pans are being made extensively in North America, Europe and the Far East? I concur with Salah Wilson, Jimi Phillip and Nestor Sullivan and believe the potential is still there, but it needs to be urgently crafted, ingeniously marketed and driven with major involvement and direct support from the government. In my view, T & T should reach out to the immense experience and skills in the diaspora and develop this industry in partnerships that return foreign exchange to the homeland. My reason for optimism is that Trinbagonians should be aware that when a pan in made in T & T, rather than abroad, it still carries considerable “power” in terms of passion, love and uniqueness. Proof of this can be seen as recently as Christmas 2018 when one of London’s major luxury departmental stores prominently displayed in its windows that an “11” - 9-note miniature steelpan in C major was among their “top ten best sellers”. While there have been many attempts to sell pan openly in the High Streets abroad, my feeling is that this one is so successful because it bears the label “Handmade in Trinidad”.

The diaspora have established T & T-based carnivals abroad (eg Notting Hill Carnival) but individuals still travel en masse to T&T for carnival annually and have a deep commitment and desire to retain this. But this window in not infinite as pan spreads widely around the globe and new industries are already being exploited outside the land of its birth. Some suggestions to explore this industry may include:

1) Partnerships between T& T and the diaspora: these must operate in an open and transparent manner where all financial undertakings are made public and can be readily scrutinised at any point.
2) Steelbands to play throughout carnival: panorama is a global phenomenon, but tourists are frustrated when this is over and steelbands, which they largely came to see, are a rare sight. Steelbands should be encouraged to take back the streets during both days of carnival – tourists can register abroad to join these bands and be charged to play with the steelbands as they already do for mas bands.
3) Recruitment to play at major events: build on the success of the existing supply of overseas players who join renowned steelbands to play for panorama. A mere fraction of the potential here is tapped and only for the bands who reach the final. Organise packaged trips for carnival from numerous countries to experience playing in T & T especially for those bands that don’t reach the final. These could be for performances such as night mas in various parts of the country (our Steelband, Nostalgia played night mas in Carapichaima in 2018). This may also include accommodation and full board and tour operators could work with steelbands to develop this industry.
4) Move the date of carnival and include steelbands in all major festivals in T& T: carnival occurs at a time of the year when only a limited number of people can travel. British Schools for example have a week designated “half-term break” which last year fell during the week of carnival. Nostalgia’s members were therefore able to fly out on carnival Friday, rehearsed on Saturday and Sunday and played from J’Ouvert to carnival Tuesday in San Fernando with their host steelband, ‘Southern All Stars’. If there were more time, members would have stayed an additional week. If steelband begins to attract a much larger tourist industry, later on similar events could be organised for Independence Day celebrations and even Christmas. In the long-term organisers and the public may even consider moving carnival to Easter, to encourage visitors to extend their normal stay for carnival only. We shouldn’t forget that Kitchie’s ‘Rain- O-Rama’ did happen in May 1972 as a result of the threat of polio that year.
5) Post-carnival workshops and tours: steelbands may operate like small companies - tourist may visit pan yards where talks and short films can be provided by band members while simultaneously pursuing the sale of pans, stands, sticks, etc. Nostalgia did an exciting one-day workshop at Pamberi pan yard that was organised by Nestor Sullivan and thrilled band members.

Rather than recount further alarm and dismay, pannists in the homeland and the diaspora, who have a genuine sincerity and passion in the future of this remarkable instrument should begin to work more closely to ensure that T & T reap the benefits of their gift to the world. In the UK, Notting Hill Carnival is now a tour de force, second only to Brazil’s Rio Carnival in magnitude and popularity and may be a powerful resource for T & T’s markets. We have just completed our 7th International Biennial Steelpan Conference (October 2018) in London and have tried in numerous ways to link our activities to T & T and from 2006 have been graced by the presence of distinguished advocates such as Mark Loquan, Jenny Lee, David Waddell, Dawn Batson, Salah Wilson, Suzanne Burke, Fabien Alfonso; Aki de Leon, Leon ‘Foster’ Thomas, Jimi Philips, Nestor Sullivan, Kim Johnson and others. We envisage that more work of this nature will help to disseminate the excellent work done in T & T to audiences abroad and will have a positive outcome on the economy as a whole.
Haroun Shah, Nostalgia Steelband, London
Several thesis/proposals/documents have been developed to confront the perpetual financial crisis that face the long-term survival and vision of a successful steelpan industry for Trinidad and Tobago. (see eg. Daily Express: September 21, 1996, page 19 - “Time’s Ripe for a Steelband Institute” Nestor Sullivan and Ian ‘Teddy’ Belgrave, “The Business of Pan”, Nestor Sullivan, July 22, 2017, UTT, Trinidad; Salah Wilson 10th October 2014, “The Concept of a Ministry for Steelpan for Trinidad & Tobago (5th International Steelpan Conference 10-12th October 2014, London), several MSc dissertations, UWI etc).
Over the years a relatively small number of steelbands have become highly successful in T & T and some have gone on to a become global phenomena. Unlike steelbands based in the diaspora, company sponsorships in T & T have underpinned their success for decades and may enable them to remain buoyant in the foreseeable future but for many of the unsponsored bands in particular, the future looks bleak. With the monetary shortfall so evident this year, there is more public disquiet and commentators such as Dara E. Healy openly expounded her dismay, 74 years after “VE Day, March 8 1945 when “the steelband was presented to the world for the first time”. She further alluded to the highly promising but “zero” output international conference on steelpan at the Hyatt, 2015 which included a significant component of business and international corporation from experts such as the UWI Con¬sult¬ing Com¬pa¬ny and Pan¬land T&T Lim¬it¬ed. Unfortunately, while other European countries had representation, the UK, where there is a natural link were notably absent.
In a low post-oil dependent economy, the prognosis is gloomy, thus there is an urgent need to seek new income streams for steelpan and an accompanying industry. PM Keith Rowley expressed his concerns in London on 23rd April 2018 and appealed to the diaspora for support as the country faced huge fiscal challenges. He indicated a major shift towards tourism to bolster foreign exchange but was aware of the hurdles of this fledgling industry due to the lack of infrastructure in a highly competitive business.
However, it might be in this broarder context that the commercial benefits of a steelband industry for T&T could be re-examined. Is it too late to re-consider developing the “drum-making factory” when pans are being made extensively in North America, Europe and the Far East? I concur with Salah Wilson, Jimi Phillip and Nestor Sullivan and believe the potential is still there, but it needs to be urgently crafted, ingeniously marketed and driven with major involvement and direct support from the government. In my view, T & T should reach out to the immense experience and skills in the diaspora and develop this industry in partnerships that return foreign exchange to the homeland. My reason for optimism is that Trinbagonians should be aware that when a pan in made in T & T, rather than abroad, it still carries considerable “power” in terms of passion, love and uniqueness. Proof of this can be seen as recently as Christmas 2018 when one of London’s major luxury departmental stores prominently displayed in its windows that an “11” - 9-note miniature steelpan in C major was among their “top ten best sellers”. While there have been many attempts to sell pan openly in the High Streets abroad, my feeling is that this one is so successful because it bears the label “Handmade in Trinidad”.

The diaspora have established T & T-based carnivals abroad (eg Notting Hill Carnival) but individuals still travel en masse to T&T for carnival annually and have a deep commitment and desire to retain this. But this window in not infinite as pan spreads widely around the globe and new industries are already being exploited outside the land of its birth. Some suggestions to explore this industry may include:

1) Partnerships between T& T and the diaspora: these must operate in an open and transparent manner where all financial undertakings are made public and can be readily scrutinised at any point.
2) Steelbands to play throughout carnival: panorama is a global phenomenon, but tourists are frustrated when this is over and steelbands, which they largely came to see, are a rare sight. Steelbands should be encouraged to take back the streets during both days of carnival – tourists can register abroad to join these bands and be charged to play with the steelbands as they already do for mas bands.
3) Recruitment to play at major events: build on the success of the existing supply of overseas players who join renowned steelbands to play for panorama. A mere fraction of the potential here is tapped and only for the bands who reach the final. Organise packaged trips for carnival from numerous countries to experience playing in T & T especially for those bands that don’t reach the final. These could be for performances such as night mas in various parts of the country (our Steelband, Nostalgia played night mas in Carapichaima in 2018). This may also include accommodation and full board and tour operators could work with steelbands to develop this industry.
4) Move the date of carnival and include steelbands in all major festivals in T& T: carnival occurs at a time of the year when only a limited number of people can travel. British Schools for example have a week designated “half-term break” which last year fell during the week of carnival. Nostalgia’s members were therefore able to fly out on carnival Friday, rehearsed on Saturday and Sunday and played from J’Ouvert to carnival Tuesday in San Fernando with their host steelband, ‘Southern All Stars’. If there were more time, members would have stayed an additional week. If steelband begins to attract a much larger tourist industry, later on similar events could be organised for Independence Day celebrations and even Christmas. In the long-term organisers and the public may even consider moving carnival to Easter, to encourage visitors to extend their normal stay for carnival only. We shouldn’t forget that Kitchie’s ‘Rain- O-Rama’ did happen in May 1972 as a result of the threat of polio that year.
5) Post-carnival workshops and tours: steelbands may operate like small companies - tourist may visit pan yards where talks and short films can be provided by band members while simultaneously pursuing the sale of pans, stands, sticks, etc. Nostalgia did an exciting one-day workshop at Pamberi pan yard that was organised by Nestor Sullivan and thrilled band members.

Rather than recount further alarm and dismay, pannists in the homeland and the diaspora, who have a genuine sincerity and passion in the future of this remarkable instrument should begin to work more closely to ensure that T & T reap the benefits of their gift to the world. In the UK, Notting Hill Carnival is now a tour de force, second only to Brazil’s Rio Carnival in magnitude and popularity and may be a powerful resource for T & T’s markets. We have just completed our 7th International Biennial Steelpan Conference (October 2018) in London and have tried in numerous ways to link our activities to T & T and from 2006 have been graced by the presence of distinguished advocates such as Mark Loquan, Jenny Lee, David Waddell, Dawn Batson, Salah Wilson, Suzanne Burke, Fabien Alfonso; Aki de Leon, Leon ‘Foster’ Thomas, Jimi Philips, Nestor Sullivan, Kim Johnson and others. We envisage that more work of this nature will help to disseminate the excellent work done in T & T to audiences abroad and will have a positive outcome on the economy as a whole.
Haroun Shah, Nostalgia Steelband, London

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