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Glitzy launch for new Carnival company

By Terry Joseph
August 16, 2003

Dame Lorraine, Native American Indian, King Sailor, Midnight Robber, Bat, Pierrot Grenade and Baby Doll freely mingled with well-heeled ladies, Cabinet Ministers and other high-profile public figures at the Cascadia Hotel ballroom Thursday night, as the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) officially announced its registration as a company.

The new body was formed after disagreements between bandleaders and the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) polarised both groupings. The NCDF believes irreconcilable differences will thwart any attempt at amalgamation and is prepared to represent its membership as a solo entity.

Among the 200 guests were Culture Minister Pennelope Beckles and Cabinet colleague Conrad Enill, Port of Spain Mayor Murchison Brown and Arima counterpart Eustace Nancis, National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Kenny de Silva, IDB’s Brian Mc Nish, ACS secretary general Dr Norman Girvan, members of the diplomatic corps, UNESCO, Downtown Merchants Association (DOMA) and COTT and veteran mas-men Jason Griffith, Earl Patterson, Edmond Hart and Neville Aming.

Driving rain conspired with the late arrival of certain treasured dignitaries to delay the programme by one hour. Secretary David Mc Kell led off a non-stop segue of speeches and tributes, spiked by entertainment from pannists Mia Gormandy and Keisha Codrington, midnight-robber Damien Whiskey, comic Louis Antoine, the Sheer Platinum Dancers and H20 Phlo; that segment produced by a committee under Legends boss, Mike Antoine.

Chairman Donald Little admitted excitement at seeing the fruit of what started as a small meeting on March 24, 2002 to protest certain aspects of that year’s parade of the bands mushroom into the NCDF.

"The issue of high cost of raw materials is a serious threat to the growth, development and sustainability of the masquerade component in Carnival, arguably the key attraction for overseas visitors," he said, adding that the cost of music was also becoming prohibitive.

DOMA president Gregory Aboud spoke on contribution his group thinks can be made by the NCDF, throwing in a few personal suggestions on extant issues, including a proposal to expand Carnival and its level of participation.

NCC chairman de Silva said, "Carnival is a joint-venture endeavour between the public and the private sector, and that it depends for its vitality and renewal on the enterprise and energies of private individuals and groups, de Silva said.

"Government is playing its role," he said, comparing the $4 million 1992 subvention with a proposed $50 million being sought for next year’s festival," saying even that figure does not include variables like sanitation and the effective security presence that made the 2003 Carnival one of the safest in recent memory.

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