Pan Trinbago head: Bigger North Stand needed

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The North Stand at the Queen’s Park Savannah was packed on Sunday for the Panorama 2024 Large Conventional Bands semi-finals. Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore intends to lobby for a larger North Stand. – Photo by Roger Jacob

A fair amount of lobbying may take place in the wake of Sunday’s Panorama medium and large band semifinals.

Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore intends to lobby for a larger North Stand after the event, the Savannah Party, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Newsday understands the stand was oversubscribed, with an official capacity of 7,000 but a reported crowd of 9,000 on that day, some of whom had paid for entry and some of whom had not.

There were also reports of the gates being forcibly opened to allow people entrance to the North Stand.

Asked about these issues in a phone interview, Ramsey-Moore said she intended to ask for a larger North Stand to accommodate what she described as a hunger for pan.

Given the demand for entry, Ramsey-Moore said, “That is why we have to take another look at North Stand.

“That size of North Stand has been there for a number of years and we recognise with the rejuvenation of pan, I am going to make the representation to see if it is possible we can have a larger North Stand.

“Or if we can find another way to utilise the space and share a different type of experience within the same space. It is possible…”

LONG TIME: Republic Bank Exodus performs Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell’s 1984 party hit Long Time. The band placed third place with a score of 279 at the Panorama 2024 Large Conventional Band semi-finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday. – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

She said line minister Randall Mitchell was there and she was sure he and National Carnival Commission (NCC) representatives would see the need to support the call for a larger North Stand.

Ramsey-Moore described the high demand as coming from a country passionate about the instrument.

“What I recognise is that there is a hungry passion for pan in TT. I am extremely pleased, because our hard work is paying off.

“We will continue to have pan throughout the year.”

She said the organisation had been working from January-December, and Sunday’s high demand was a result of that.

The organisation was now looking forward to the medium finals in Tobago, scheduled for February 4 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium. The top ten bands from Sunday’s semifinals move on to the finals.

Valley Harps’ disqualification for not meeting size requirements raised discussion.

Asked if the organisation could do anything to ensure bands have the required number of players, Ramsey-Moore said that could not be known until the band is about to perform. The check is done on stage, she said.

“There is no other way we can check, because we can’t check the bands on the drag. It is only when they are on stage we can check to ensure they meet the required rule,” she said.

She said there is a minimum and maximum and every band signed to the rule.

“If you break the rule, automatically you are disqualified.”

She added that it was nothing new and there had also been instances in the preliminaries. Pan Trinbago’s website, with a subhead reading Panorama rules 2018, lists the minimum number of players in the medium category as 70, with a maximum of 90.

Other enquiries about the required number also led to the same figures.

Corporate bodies truly supported pan on Sunday, Ramsey-Moore said. These bodies bought tickets by the hundreds and she thanked them for that, she added.

The last Panorama competitions to be held are the medium and large band finals.

The large band final is scheduled to be held on February 10 at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Even after these the pan body has plans to host several festivals this year, living up its New Year promises. Ramsey-Moore said it hopes to return the Pan Is Beautiful (Steelband Music Festival) competition to its calendar of events this year.

A Pan is Beautiful XII was last held in 2013.

Valley Harps’, Harmonites face transport, funding woes

But Valley Harps bandleader Roland Augustussaid that rule needs to change.

In a phone interview on Monday he repeatedly said judges judge music, and not the size of bands.

Augustus said the band did not have the minimum number of players, through no fault of its own. The band hired transport for over $20,000 and gave the supplier a cheque, but the supplier had to wait four days for it to clear.

The band had no transport for its players. People in the Petit Valley community transported some players to the competition, but not all got there.

This resulted in the band’s not meeting the minimum requirement.

Augustus said the band had been competing in Panorama for more than 56 years (Panorama has been taking place, officially, since 1963).

“It is a shame. We are elders in this thing, we are not juniors,” he said.

Augustus said he planned to lobby to have the rule changed. The band receives partial funding from the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB).

While Barataria’s Harmonites also did not have the required number of players, they opted to withdraw instead.

The band’s treasurer Learie Sookram said many cried when the band withdrew from the competition, but its management felt the right decision was made.

The NGC Couva Joylanders play Soca Tatie by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires during the Panorama Medium Conventional Bands semi-finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

In a phone interview with Newsday, Sookram said the decision to withdraw was one of money as well as not having enough players to go to the semifinals.

Sookram said the band did not initially qualify, and when it was allowed to compete, given Pan Trinbago’s decision to honour its late president Patrick Arnold by allowing all large bands into the semifinals, it struggled.

“While session going on, we see the band had been struggling, struggling to get the amount of players we require, which is 100. We made a decision and said we were not going.

“We had to bring in contract players, and if we don’t have the money, we don’t want to put ourselves through that situation.”

He said the executive believes it made the right decision and referred to Valley Harps’ disqualification from the medium band semifinals.

The unsponsored band made an appeal for help, saying its history as a great band (winning four Panorama titles) and the role it plays in guiding the area’s youth make it apt for sponsorship.