The inescapable fact is that the steelbands of T&T and its representative organization Pan Trinbago have no choice but to find alternative sources of income besides dependence on government subsidies.
Looking objectively at Pan Trinbago’s main event the Panorama , we can see that there is no way it can be cost-effective , when we balance the possible income from tickets, vending etc. against the actual cost of the panorama, including tuners and arrangers fees, transportation etc. and the actual work that goes into presenting the spectacle that panorama has become.
The Pan Trinbago debt cannot be attributed to corruption and mismanagement alone.
Based on the numbers I’ve heard, the government funding isn’t as much money in the real world as we think.
Trinidad isn’t cheap, in many cases costs are comparable to the US , so I make a mental conversion, and $30 million TT is less than $6 million US, and the value is about the same.
The actual bill for steelband activities in T&T has to be more than that, so indebtedness is inevitable if we rely solely on government funds.
So, long-term, steelbands cannot continue business as usual in T&T.
They have to figure alternative ways of generating income and rely on the government funds as supplementary.
And we’re not talking “pie in the sky” about billion dollar industries.
The best opportunities for making money as musicians and entertainers remain the carnival period.
The carnival display featuring the steelband, and presented to a world audience via live broadcasts and video, also affords the best opportunity to rekindle worldwide interest in the steelband ; and can be an avenue to promote the creativity of local pan people , the locally crafted pan itself, and other steelpan events (an international Panorama maybe?) later in the year.
I am convinced that with strategic planning, that period can still be exploited to benefit steelbands financially.
We cannot afford to devote it entirely to the panorama.
Steel-pan players, especially the core band members – the stage sides – should be able to show a few dollars after a carnival season.
After all, it was done in the past.
Why not, in the 21st century?