January 15, 2001
By TERRY JOSEPH
A FIVE-HOUR meeting held on Saturday resulted in a complete about-face by Pan Trinbago who, only last week announced new arrangements for next month’s National Steelband Panorama competition.
Speaking yesterday to the Daily Express, Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold said he was disappointed that the plans to reduce the length of shows and cut costs had been shot down at the meeting.
“At the end of the day, everything will remain as it was,” said Arnold. “The semi-final has been reinstated and the preliminary round will again be a marathon session, with the North and East Zones combined on Sunday February 11.”
Last year, that combination caused the preliminary round held at the Queen’s Park Savannah to run for more than 16 hours, ending shortly before 5 a.m. on the Monday morning.
“I am well aware that we are facing a reaction from the patrons that is not likely to be complimentary,” Arnold said.
“The big bands feel that no one will come to hear them on Saturday if after they draw, they are placed on that day, so everyone wants to play on Sunday and that will mean the same number of bands as we had last year and perhaps the same kind of marathon session, but that is what the membership wants.
“After a five-hour meeting and I spoke until I was losing my voice, the membership voted to have things as they were. Pan Trinbago is a democratic organisation, so that is the way it will be. I am personally disappointed that we are going to face the public again with this unwieldy programme.
“I know it is ridiculous and the public knows that too. In fact, the public must be wondering when we will wise-up to the reality that only the players want to sit through that kind of torture. The judges certainly do not wish to sit for 17 hours and the patrons will simply leave when they are tired, but that is where we are.
“The pannists want the semi-final reinstated. The pannists want the North and East zones to play together. The pannists do not want to split the bands over Saturday and Sunday.
“No one was talking about what the public wants and it is the public who we expect to pay admission prices. The audience and the judges appear to be running last in the members’ list of priorities, as though we could have the competition without these two supporting groups,” Arnold said.
“We told them that the clutter of events in Carnival today means that we have to prepare and present a more attractive product, but a couple of influential bandleaders stood up and said they wanted things to remain the same and the less popular delegates were afraid to contradict them.
After the meeting a number of them came to me to say they agreed with me, but they could not stand up against the stalwarts,” Arnold said.
Terry-J at I-Level
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