At the first meeting of the Association since the close of carnival, members agreed that the festival lacked the necessary cohesion and consistency that had been building over previous years.
Several members are reflecting seriously on yet another year of financial losses, and the Association is therefore seriously concerned about the viability of several member bands and their sustainable participation in future carnivals.
The August 9th meeting saw record attendance by Bandleaders, many of whom articulated their disappointment in the production and management structure in effect for the 2014 festival.
This year’s festival was produced and managed by the Carnival Production and Management Agency (CPMA), an agency that does not provide for representation by any of the major stakeholders, particularly the representative associations of steel bands, calypso tents and mas’ bands. As such, the Association feels that many years of knowledge and experience in producing and managing the Saint Lucia carnival have been discarded.
The Carnival Stakeholder Committee which previously managed Carnival was created by Cabinet some four years ago, to improve planning, implementation, transparency and accountability. That committee included all the representative associations with oversight by the Ministry of Finance, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, the Chamber of Commerce and CDF. That structure was abandoned this year without prior notice or explanation.
The Lucia Carnival Band’s Association therefore plans to engage the CPMA and the Ministry of Creative Industries to table the issue of adequate representation, and what it feels are other important production issues hindering the enhancement of Saint Lucia’s carnival product.
Speaking to these issues, CBA President Sonia Sifflet, says “…Carnival bands are loosing money each season because many of the elements needed to ensure creativity, growth and development of the carnival product are still being ignored”.
She noted that while members of the SLNCBA remain committed to the development of the Carnival industry in St. Lucia, Government should not speak about exporting the carnival product until an environment is created locally for the producers of carnival to grow and develop.
“Among those issues is the incentive structure for all carnival creators”, said Mrs Sifflet, pointing out that “bands continue to invest in materials, labour, talent and infrastructure with little prior assurance of any return”.
She said “…Some bands barely made it on the road this year while two bands pulled out altogether. Sponsorship, subventions, prizes and even sales of costumes remain uncertain from year to year, making Carnival a very precarious business for us all”