President of the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters’ Association Jerome Precilla says fete promoters feel they are being left out of the main Carnival discussions by the National Carnival Commission and the Government, despite being major contributors to the seasonal experience for visitors.
This, he says, leaves them struggling to deal with some of the major challenges they face during the season, one of which is the bureaucracy of getting things related to the industry done in this country.
“The biggest thing for us is the bureaucracy of putting on a fete. Beyond anything else. Beyond the funding …, it is very, very difficult to put on a fete in Trinidad and Tobago,” Precilla told Guardian media yesterday in response to questions about some of the challenges facing his membership as they get ready for the “Mother of All Carnivals.”
He said the complexity of having to secure a Noise Variation from the Environmental Management Authority, permissions from the Police and Fire Service and securing a bar license to have a concert or event were time consuming barriers hurting their industry and, by extension, the Carnival economy.
Despite these issues, he argued that his sector was responsible for the drawing the largest crowds both local and international to our shores for the season, which in turn benefits the country in visitor numbers and foreign exchange.
But that is not the associations only gripe.
“You dubbing it as a ‘Mother of all Carnivals’, yet still you have not sat with the promoters’ association to say, ‘What are you all’s plans for Carnival 2023? How can we get involved? How can we support this?’” he asked rhetorically.
“Because if you look at the space, and you look at the attendance at the events, it’s the promoters’ association membership that really draws the crowd and puts on the Mother of all Carnivals.”
Precilla wants to see a more organised response to their work, including a streamlining of the various applications required for an event to be approved.
This argument finds favour with Randy Glasgow, of Randy Glasgow Productions Ltd, who believes a structured approach is needed.
“You need an administrative board overseeing Carnival that will consist of the customs, the police, the fire, all the authorities must be in tune with what’s happening,” Glasgow, a current member and former president of the association, said.
Glasgow said such a board could possibly be a specialised arm of the Ministry of Finance given, among its roles, the issuing of fete licenses, including the various copyright licenses needed for permission to play the live and/or recorded music at events.
He said the proposed board could also help the various stakeholders come up with policies that can work in harmony with the creation of a great tourism product, something Glasgow cautions does not currently happen.
“If I could make reference to a Carnival Monday or Tuesday, the Licensing Authority would move around with their tape inspecting tyres,” he said.
“And we feel that is not the place to be checking these things because you have 300 or 400 masqueraders from abroad in a band…and because the licensing people are doing their checks…these trucks have to stay still in the hot sun for an hour, two hours while they do their checks.”
For Precilla, especially after coming out of the pandemic and its restrictions, the current status quo cannot stand. He said the association will, in the coming days, make public some suggestions they believe will put the Carnival in a positive direction.
“We will have our own press conference to let the Government know that we not really happy with how things unfold year after year with Carnival. Especially coming out of the pandemic, we expected to see a lot more done for the industry and we haven’t really seen that, versus money just being pumped into the NCC for them to do what they want with it and we haven’t had a meeting with them, or with any of the other stakeholders, as to what is going to happen for the Carnival. Nobody has consulted with us on that,” Precilla said.
There is also the emerging issue of event spaces.
“We are having a lot of issues with the use of certain venues to get these things done,” he said.
While he failed to go into details, Glasgow told Guardian Media he has had some issues with staging his events at the Brian Lara Stadium.