A retiring Carnival costume builder here is making an appeal for a permanent venue for building costumes and eventually storing them after the Carnival season is over.
Clarence Douglas has been building and designing costumes for over four decades and he told Dominica News Online that over the years builders have been moving from one place to the next in order to work on their craft.
“I mean it’s a frustration,” he said. “Like I said we going here, we going there, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Douglas has been building costumes at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium for four years now and thinks a permanent home for building and storing them makes sense.
“At first everybody have been talking about a place to store the costumes, but what I normally say I have nothing wrong with it, but if I don’t have a place to build it, how can I have a place to store it?” he reasoned.
Douglas recounts one particular year when costumes were stored at Wood Bridge Bay and he lamented that it would have been better off if they were destroyed, since they stayed about an entire year collecting dust and had to eventually be dismounted.
He mentioned that over the years proposals were made to use an area in Silver Lake but no one looked into the matter seriously.
Douglas envisions a venue where costumes are not only built and stored, but where workshops are held to teach others about the craft.
“I would love to see that I could come back and teach children how to bend wire, how to decorate a costume,” he noted. “But it’s like you work for nothing and you leave with nothing.”
He also believes that costume builders in Dominica are not getting the recognition and respect that they deserve.
He stated that it is only during Carnival the names of costume builders are called but “after that, who are you?”
Douglas is also making a case for an increase in the cost of producing a costume from $5,000 to $6,500-$7,000.
He said builders devote up to one month to construct a costume and the cost of materials are increasing every year.
Additionally, hired help is necessary to assist in building the costumes.
The veteran is urging the Dominica Festivals Committee (DFC) to consult with builders on the prices because, according to him, year after year it is assumed that $5,000 for a costume is sufficient.
“It is an insult,” Douglas said.
He said he is calling it quits since he is suffering from arthritis and blood clots in the legs.