Pan Trinbago boss: Steelbands need corporate help

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Frontlne players of Fusion Steel Orchestra perfrom at their San Fernando panyard on Friday during preliminary judging of the small conventional steelpan competiton. – Photo by Yvonne Webb

AMIDST a cry for financial help to ensure the growth and future of the steelband, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore made an impassioned plea for corporate TT to assist.

She spoke to the media during the judging of National Panorama Small Conventional Steelband preliminaries 2024 at NLCB Fonclaire pan yard, San Fernando, where Fusion Steel performed for the judges on Friday night.

A minute silence was observed for the late pan great Earl Rodney before the start of Fusion Steel’s rendition of a Darren Sheppard arrangement of Free Up by Christopher “Tambu” Herbert.

Ramsey-Moore recalled in the heyday of state-owned Petrotrin many bands were recipients of full sponsorship and other forms of assistance. Five years after the restructuring of that company she said steelbands, especially those in the south, are still reeling from the loss.

“So there is no Petrotirn, but there is Heritage and whoever else is in the south. Pour into the communities in south.”

Heritage has been supporting Skiffle Steel Orchestra.

“We are really looking forward to corporate TT giving that kind of support to strengthen our communities, build a nation.

“Petrotrin in those days supported the bands in south. I am appealing to the corporate bodies in south to invest in the steelbands.

“When you invest in the steelband, you invest in communities. When you invest in communities, you invest in families, and the families are the bedrock of society and all our young people.

“Pan is intergenerational, when you invest you touch their very lives. It is all about development of people.”

Her statements were prompted by Ralph Sobers, manager of Mowtown Pan Theatre who said after 52 years they were still unsponsored.

Sobers who inherited the band from his father, John Sobers, said there are many programmes they want to implement, including homework centres, summer classes, cooking classes, but a lack of financial support is preventing them from gaining any kind of traction.

“We want help because there are a lot of things we want to do after Panorama to keep the group together. Without funding, we just can’t do it.”

His band performed an Adin Herbert arrangement of David Rudder’s Madness for the judges which included Dr Mia Gormandy Benjamin, Joanna Short, Michelle Dowrich and Damien Phillip.

Ramsey-Moore commended the players, arrangers and all the stakeholders for a very high standard of competition.

“I am very happy I am not a judge.” On Friday night judges also visited Todds Road Rhythm Raiders and Longdenville Claytones.

The preliminary round of the competition which began on December 8 in Tobago will end in the south on Sunday as all the other zones, including the North and East have completed their preliminary round.

Results are to be announced on Monday. From 48 bands, some 32 will advance to the semifinal rounds at Victoria Square on January 6. The finals will take place at Skinner Park on January 12.

“I think the finals in south will be a spectacle to behold,” Ramsey-Moore said.

The pan body visited Skinner Park last week and another visit is carded for this week, along with the NCC and representatives of the San Fernando mayor’s office to work out logistical issues..

Ramsey-Moore said the entrance from the grounds which the bands normally used to enter, no longer exists. Having to use the entrance from the Cipero Steet gate to accommodate both exnry and departure is where one of the challenges lie.

For 2024 Pan Trinbago will also be reintroducing the South pan champs.

“Long ago all regions have a champion. There is a Tobago pan champ run under the THA and so we are going to reintroduce it in the south for 2024, in the north and eastern regions in 2025.

The president expressed hope for increased prize money and remittances for players in 2025.

As it stands, the large conventional band champ will walk away with $1 million, medium, $600,000, small, $250,000 and single bands, $275,000.