Makeover for Pan Trinbago

November 5, 2000

BEGINNING with a move to spacious new offices at Victoria Suites in the Amar Building on Ariapita Avenue, Pan Trinbago is already undergoing “major surgery”, mere days after electing the executive that will steer the organisation through to 2003.

On Saturday last, Patrick Arnold was elected to his second term as president. Yesterday, he spoke to the Express about some of his plans for the next three years: “In musical terms,” Arnold said, “we are changing the very key in which pan has been playing. In medical lingo, it might amount to major surgery.

“While one of our priority projects is to improve the image of the organisation, moving to new offices is not just a matter of cosmetics. You will remember the fire at 75 Edward Street that caused us to move to lower Richmond Street. Down there, we were cramped for space and some members were even referring to the headquarters of the home of pan as ‘the washroom’.

“So the move is a practical thing,” Arnold said. “And when we talk about the image of the organisation, we are not just thinking about home, but the global role that Pan Trinbago will be required to play from here on in; if we want to retain the position as the source.

“The recently-concluded World Steelband Music Festival and the International Conference on the Science and Technology of the Steelpan have brought attention to the instrument like never before and we are going to be called upon to respond to new challenges from the international pan fraternity.

“Cliff Alexis of the Northern Illinois University steelband that was here called us to say that all levels of university officials are still coming to his office on a daily basis to compliment the band on coming second in the festival. He said scores of people he has never seen before found him to enquire about pan and NIU has already told the band that money is no problem for the next world festival. The response has been the same from other bands that came here,” Arnold said. “And on the local front, there is a high level of interest in keeping connected to the global pan circuit. We therefore have to revamp Pan Trinbago to facilitate that kind of leap.

“We have to equip the organisation with professional management. The decision has already been taken to bring in these professionals. No elected executive member will hold a post requiring special training or skills, just because he got more votes than another person.

“If this is to be the headquarters of pan in the land of the steelband, then we must be able to offer the kind of services that any comparable organisation in the world is able to offer,” Arnold said. “We will have executive members assigned to keep tabs on certain portfolios, but accountants and auditors, marketing management, education, archiving and the development of administrative systems are specialised skills; not necessarily available from elected officials. “Then there is the question of information systems and not just for people who want to find out about pan, but to allow us to communicate in a more modern fashion. People believe that everything we have to say is part of an argument. Perhaps a lot of what we say takes the form of complaint about successive governments who promise to fund our special projects, but that is not all we have to say.

“We also have to develop education programmes that look at the broader picture. Although we were familiar with the work of some of the researchers at the University of the West Indies, the science conference has opened our eyes to quite a few new concepts and we have to see how that information could be translated into economic activity. Music literacy programmes and other initiatives, perhaps in greater collaboration with the very university, are things on the new agenda.

“The chroming facility, our history project, youth programmes, the pan factory and land regularisation are practical matters we have to address in the short term. It is unfortunate that these issues are still in the pending tray, because these projects were set up at the request of government, who promised to fund them and have embarrassed us steady since 1990,” Arnold said.

“Now that the election is over, I am hoping that part of the healing process could include the sourcing of needed talent from any area of the pan fraternity. The problem is that we do not have a sophisticated skills bank to determine which of the 10,000 pannists in the country have professional level qualifications or experience in the particular areas.

“So at every turn we can see the need for a new style of organisation and although we live in a culture that sometimes finds change difficult to accept, we have to do what we think will further pan in the world. It is Pan Trinbago that must unite the pan world. And if you look at the FIFA model, it is easy to understand the gains to be had from that kind of structure.

“Those of us who have been keeping a watch on the situation know that pan will more than likely be the most played instrument in this century at least. We have to be ready for that kind of challenge. And I feel that the new Pan Trinbago will be ready for it,” Arnold said.


President — Patrick Arnold

Vice president — Keith Byer

Secretary — Richard Forteau

Asst Sec — Ian Clarke

Treasurer — Anthony Mc Quilkin

External Relations Officer — Selwyn “Parry” Paul

Education Officer — Winston Thomas

Public Relations Officer — Milton “Wire” Austin

Terry-J at I-Level