STATEMENT – The Council was invited to a CPMA meeting on May 30, 2015 to discuss Community Carnival. The Mayor, a Councilor, the Clerk and the one and only known member of the Gros Islet Cultural Development Committee were present. Other communities were also represented.
The meeting was informed that:
• Councils and the Ministry of Social Transformation are being involved in this activity for the first time, in an effort to improve accountability and post-event reporting.
• In principle, the community carnival activities should lead up to the national carnival celebrations in July.
Each community was asked to present their plans for community carnival. The budget prepared by the Gros Islet Cultural Development Committee member was presented as follows:
Queen show $23,219.15
He indicated that efforts to introduce costumes in the past had failed due to the expense. Efforts to get involvement of communities outside of Gros Islet had also not succeeded. The celebrations have depended on T shirt and monetary sponsorship from beverage suppliers as revelers do not want to pay.
He indicated that the j’ouvert and line jam are coordinated by the Cultural Development Committee (comprising himself) and the Queen Show is coordinated by Lady J. He lamented that he has been the only person coordinating the j’ouvert and line jam over the last few years.
CPMA indicated that they were disappointed with the lack of progress made by Gros Islet to date, and that they were not happy with the proposed programme presented by Gros Islet. They indicated that:
1. They would like to see a junior carnival effort, and
2. the Queen show would not be part of the programme to be funded by CPMA.
They proposed to pilot junior bands in 2 communities, Dennery and Gros Islet. It was suggested that a minimum of 100 children should be targeted by Gros Islet through the schools and community groups. Gros Islet representatives present at the meeting agreed to revise and re-submit a programme by June 5.
The Council in collaboration with the only known member of the Gros Islet Cultural Development Committee convened a number of planning meetings focusing on the kiddy carnival element. The CPMA provided a budget template to guide the Council. Using this, a budget of $16,350 was submitted to CPMA for the Gros Islet Junior Carnival on June 18. Some sponsorship was also obtained to offset certain costs. In the final analysis, the Council was able to generate support from a number of schools and parents, and a total of 83 children participated in the Gros Islet kiddy carnival band.
Council representatives met with only known member of the Gros Islet Cultural Development Committee on July 24 to review progress on the plans for the customary Gros Islet Day celebrations. It was agreed that a j’ouvert and line jam would be held, as little preparation had yet been made. Hotels and companies within the constituency were invited to participate as groups. Sponsors were approached. CPMA was also approached to confirm their commitment to support these activities, notwithstanding that national celebrations had already passed. CPMA did confirm their support on July 31.
$7,500 was received from CPMA in the first week of August, and there is an undertaking for a further $7,500 to be provided. These funds are to cover all Community Carnival costs. Up to today, bills for the activities are still coming in, and the Council is ensuring that its accounts are in order, for submission to CPMA.
It is unfortunate that the organisers of the Queen Show did not make an effort to meet with the Council before going public with their allegations that the Council is withholding money from them.
However, the Council would be happy to meet with them to assist in any way within its means, and stands in support of any activity that has the potential to strengthen the Gros Islet community.