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Over the years Pan Trinbago introduced several "innovations" to panorama but in some cases the adage applies: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. One was the category system which in theory was supposed to spread the wealth, introduce parity to the competition, and give smaller bands an opportunity to shine with the hope that successful ones would move up to join the big bands. But in practice, this has not come to be.

In practice, the large category actually shrank to the point where they can't even hold a proper preliminary round anymore since several large bands decided they could better manage in a smaller category. And because Pan Trinbago did not take the necessary step of requiring consistently successful smaller bands to "graduate" to the next level, there is no way to make up for that deficit other than the few bands that took it upon themselves to do so, which so far hasn't been enough.

In practice, not only does the large category continue to be mostly dominated by the same few bands, but small and medium have been taken over by bands that could compete in a bigger category but instead stay put to shoot fish in a barrel. Subsequently, those categories have become predictable and less compelling to a public that already has an overt bias toward the large bands. Medium finals is seen as an overlong opening act for the "big guns" while the small ones don't even get that opportunity, marooned as they are in a venue whose attendance can't even measure up to that of a "small island" panorama.

In practice, there is less wealth to spread but Pan Trinbago still has to cater for three conventional panoramas totaling 34 finalists and three winners. With declining interest, declining playership, and many financial problems facing the organization, why do they continue to subsidize this? Maybe it's time to tighten the belt, admit it is a failed experiment, and consider something more streamlined that resembles panorama of the past, with the goal not only to reduce overall costs but also attract public interest again, encourage attendance, and increase playership:

-A large band finals of 12 bands at 100 players max;
-A small band finals of 6 bands at 50 players max, in place of medium finals;
-Arrangers and players can work/play with more than one band;
-All bands must play a current tune of choice;
-Allow supporters/attendees to stand by the stage again;
-Adjust the season, moving semifinals closer to finals.

Having more large bands of smaller size allows inclusion of formerly medium bands, while a tighter small bands final is a more interesting kickoff to the event. Arrangers and players would not be limited to one band; however, with fewer and smaller bands making finals, hustling would naturally be regulated. Requiring bands to play current selections engages the public better, and allowing the crowd to be near the stage again is another step in that direction. And finally, moving semifinals could open that event up to the visiting market who comes for Carnival, not two weeks before, and would also extend the season for those bands that don't make finals.

Some will see this as assigning dollar signs to art, but considering the financial straits the panorama finds itself in and with money so often being the primary focus of protest, perhaps we do need to set aside emotion and look at it from a businesslike standpoint. As someone who deeply loves pan and panorama regardless of category and who has in fact played in all categories many times I also have to admit that the competition seems to have become too bloated for its own good and for it to continue, some sweeping changes are needed.

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"Arrangers and players can work/play with more than one band;"....

You can't be serious...Like everybody else...You continue to put plasters on sores...

I included that as a compromise. The caveats of having fewer bands with less players, and the requirement of arranging a current tune, would determine that.

Get serious Noah....there can be no compromise in a competition...What is wrong with you?....Don't you see the damage that playing with more than one band is doing to the very fabric of ALL steelbands?...Steelbands no longer have members. Even if Panorama were to be considered an actual job. Would you be allowed to work for more than one employer at the same time...During the same hours?...Would confidentiality not be an issue between employers? The only way band hoping is tolerated is because the money paid to mercenary players doesn't come from the individual steelband's pockets. It's the government stipend that ALL bands depend on to play crackshot, mercenary, child soldiers...what have you...So you want this skullduggery to continue?...Seriously?

I never said it should continue. I actually agree with you. However, one of the arguments for categories that I often hear is that the system provides work for the arrangers. So compromise and let them work with more than one band if they're able. But then the next argument I hear often is, if an arranger can work with more than one band, why can't a player as well? So compromise and let them try to play with more band. But with fewer finalists and a reduced player limit, bands wouldn't be as strapped for players. Nobody is going to go band hopping if they know someone else will be on their pan while they're by another band.

Noah...I am an arranger too...Albeit quite new on the scene. I have been a competitor in Panorama for 43 years and I am telling you here and now that I couldn't care less about which arranger works or doesn't. In a competitive scenario one man/woman cannot be allowed to prepare more than one team. That is a matter of choice per band. The market does not dictate that one arranger should have the opportunity to make more money than any other arranger.  But...This is Trinidad and we only accept that because over here anything goes. Pan Trinbago never had the balls to change it. Afterall arrangerama began with Arnim Smith's Jewel 22 back in 1980. He was then President of Pan Trinbago. So what yuh expect? Shouldn't he have known better? We keep making all kinda excuses rather than just fixing the mess...Clean the sorefoot...Cut if off if you have to...

Okay let me put it another way.

Currently there is no feasible institutional method to prevent band hopping, only ways to discourage it. Look at the ICP for an example. They were very strict about one band per player, but aside from registering names which is already proven to not be foolproof, they didn't have a method for preventing it. However, it was naturally discouraged because there were not that many local bands, and bands were limited to 60 players meaning fewer opportunities for it. 

So short of implementing a system where players scan an ID card before crossing the stage--costly and impractical--Pan Trinbago, or whomever, can only make changes to the situation to make it less susceptible to band hopping, like reducing the player maximum. And beyond that, honestly, it's up to the bands themselves to foster loyalty--you can't just institutionally force it. 

Noah...I don't care what system is used...ID card...Retina scanning...Tatoo...toute monde...We cannot just simply "allow" counter productive behaviours to govern Panorama...As I said before bands are dying one by one because of lack of membership. I'm glad you mentioned the ICP too. Did anyone complain about the 60 players ceiling? Wasn't the show competitive? The only thing that spoiled it for me was the ole tune thing again and the eventual winners played a tune that they had been playing for 30-odd years. Fuss we not serious...nobody saw a problem with that. All competition MUST have a level paying field...If not...it's not a competition...

Well seeing as we can barely get a proper live feed of the panorama I don't see retina scanners coming into play. So best we can do is reduce the size of bands, reduce the number of bands in finals; and as bands, foster an environment that makes players want to be loyal.

Besides it seems a lot less foolish to say you're going to allow players to band hop in a situation naturally prohibitive of it, than to decree that they absolutely cannot band hop, without a foolproof method in place to enforce it.

Yuh want to bet if the government stipend stop...bandhopping stop too? But then again this is Trinidad...Ten days mentality still rules...and is we vote they still want too...

Another thing the ICP did not have: a government stipend.

Had plenty of band loyalty though...

Have the players walk in front of a video camera as they take the stage. Video will be reviewed after the competition.

Disqualify any band caught with players in multiple bands for three years from the competition.  

bugs

Bugs,

People complain that it takes too long between bands as it is... after the chaos of pushing racks on stage, organizing them, etc. you then need all players to line up to be videotaped?

Personally while I don't care for bandhopping I think that trying to implement such measures to prevent it is unnecessarily punitive and strict. It is a carnival event after all. I think it's simply better to restrict the ability of people to band hop by limiting the space for it. Then those who should be the ones demanding loyalty, the bands themselves, can do so. As I said before, you're less likely to go by a next band if your spot isn't guaranteed... 

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