File photo: Masqueraders from The Lost Tribe’s protrayal Anansi at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Carnival Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Photo by Jeff K. Mayers
The president of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA), Rosalind Gabriel, says while the association could not say definitively what a pandemic-era Parade of the Bands would look like – if it were to take place – it would have to be in an enclosed venue, with strict entry requirements and a robust security presence.
Her comments come after the National Carnival Commission (NCC) said a suggestion has been put forward for a Carnival 2022 that falls within the ambit of the TT Safe Zone initiative, for vaccinated people.
In responses to Newsday, Gabriel also said the association was organising a vaccination drive and would be writing to the Ministry of Health on Friday.
The drive is tentatively scheduled for December 4, with five locations, to be announced. Gabriel said in the months leading up to NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters’ presentation to Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell on November 12, the association was involved in a “number of highlevel meetings” to discuss Carnival 2022.
Gabriel said the association was at the meeting when the plans were shared with Mitchell and is “in full agreement with the possibility of a Carnival 2022 – one that is able to celebrate our traditions and maintain public health and safety at the highest levels.”
She said the association knew there were many considerations, especially given the recent spike in covid19 cases “and the heightened fear and worry that many are undergoing.
“In advancing the discussion of a possible Carnival 2022, we must also, as a people, put greater urgency and awareness into the drive to become more widely vaccinated. This is the most prudent and effective means of our people combating the virus,” she said in e-mail responses.
One of the main elements of the proposed Carnival 2022 plan is the creation of centralised hubs, or Carnival safe zones where events could be staged for vaccinated patrons, she said.
These events for the TTCBA include the kings and queens shows and the traditional and conventional mas presentations, which will be easier to manage because of the formats.
However, the Parade of the Bands was still being explored in consultation with stakeholders, including public health officials, Gabriel said.
She said it was “still exploratory times” when it came to these discussions.
Promoter Randy Glasgow commented by e-mail that any decision or meeting about a future Carnival should and must include soca artistes.
“Soca music is the engine of Carnival and regrettably our soca artistes, musicians, producers, writers are left out of all conversations presently happening on the future staging of a Carnival,” he said.
Glasgow urged Mitchell and the NCC to contact them. complaining, “Our soca artistes and musicians are hurting immensely and they are sadly left in a corner to ponder and figure their way forward without any real support or consultation to help them take care of their families and themselves.”