I must acknowledge that the highly seasoned professionals who have suggested the change have a very brilliant record of success in promoting and developing cultural events both here and abroad, and certainly know more than I do.
Nonetheless, I am not convinced that a change in the dates of carnival without attacking the real problem hindering the development of the festival is going to make much of a difference.
I joined one of the biggest costume bands to play Mas in Trinidad & Tobago this year (TRIBE), and must admit that it is one of the best festivals on earth.
But the government of Trinidad & Tobago spent over TT$ 94 million dollars on Carnival in 2012. That is a large chuck of Dominica’s national budget. The prizes for Soca Monarch included TT$ 2.5 million dollars. The Road March prize included a brand new motor vehicle. Surely, the success of the carnival celebration did not happen overnight. As others have rightly pointed out, Trinidad & Tobago continues to compete successfully with Carnival in Rio, and Mardi Gras.
Every year, for the most part, the same Thunderbird diehards and a few others actually take part in the Carnival activities, while the majority of Dominicans continue to look from the sidelines. We must ask ourselves: ‘if we change the date of Carnival, will we be inviting visitors to look at us parade, or will they be looking at us standing on the sidelines?’
The Carnival celebrations in Dominica continue to reflect a lack of sponsorship from the persons who can afford to do it. If only our festivities received only a fraction of the sponsorship spent by the DLP and UWP during general elections, I think we’d be doing a lot better.
My argument, simply, a change of the date without a change of attitude, involvement and financial support alongside an increase in sponsorship may not make a difference.
I am also convinced that Dominica’s carnival is suffering from a deficiency of performing arts education. We have few music schools, since the Kairi school of music was closed down. I am unaware whether any of our schools teach costume building to develop the creative abilities of our people.
I do applaud that the efforts of the Waitikubuli dance theatre and Christian school of music, but I am of the view that a collective effort is lacking. By comparison, the 3 main Universities in Trinidad & Tobago, as well as other art colleges throughout the country offer full time collegiate programs and bachelors and masters degrees in costume design, music, drama and dance.
My point, without developing the creative ability and intellectual capacity of its human resources in tertiary Art programs, Dominica’s carnival will never reflect its full cultural potential.
My third and final point is perhaps the most obvious. Without more flights to Dominica, and an increase in hotel capacity, we really are at a significant natural disadvantage. I won’t elaborate much on this point, but travel is a major hassle, as persons seeking a getaway will inevitably be deterred by our limited air access.
Dominica’s carnival has great potential. But the problems we face stem largely from a lack of patronage and deficiency of sponsorship. To put on a great show, we must have great sponsors.
A change in the date may help, but I am not yet convinced it is the simple solution.
A Carnival Lover
Copyright 2012 Dominica News Online, DURAVISION INC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.