That appeal came from the Mas Action Carnival Band just days after the country wrapped up its 2013 carnival celebrations.
The group raised this concern, among others, in a press release which also questioned the manner in which traditional costumes are judged “on the same level” as those that are imported.
While not opposing the use of imported costumes in the country’s carnival, the group said that more needs to be done to support locally-made ones.
“We see this phenomenon happening in other Caribbean countries where measures have been put in place to allow the tradition to live on and allow for both types of bands to co-exist. We need to see that happening in St. Lucia and for tradition sake we are calling for this change now,” the group said.
It also added, “It is a notion that carnival bands make a lot of money, but this is far from the truth, especially with a band like Mas Action who design and execute the construction of costumes in St. Lucia. Costume-making has been a staple of our carnival and it is our mission to keep this tradition alive.”
The band described St Lucia’s carnival as an expression of art which is more than just “a huge beach party” and took the opportunity to highlight what it said is the importance and impact of traditional costumes.
“With the current talk of the development of our creative industries and art, and positively engaging young people, costume-making allows for them to go from a theme, to sketch, to completed design, to the mas camp to see these designs come alive, and then carnival day when these costumes are paraded,” the release said.
“Many young people who come into our mas camp are ‘wowed’ at how they see headpieces, costumes and other accessories manufactured. Even the king and queen costumes come to life. All of this is done right here. The young and younger work alongside in a harmony that words cannot adequately describe,” the group added.
The band further noted that it was the only group chosen to host a team from Guadeloupe to portray how costumes are built.
“This says a lot,” the release said.
Moreover, Mas Action spoke against what it said was the scandalous way in which carnival is now being portrayed and marketed.
“Our young people of today are being taught that carnival is a time to ‘free up yourself” by dressing as scandalous as you please, drinking as much liquor as it is overflowing – even if it means going beyond your limits and getting on ‘bad’ just for a good time. Is that the message we want to send for future generations? Is that how we get the youth to empower themselves?” the release said.
On the issue of judging costumes, the group believes that for the process to be ethical “it is imperative that only judges and coordinators who attend the St Lucia Carnival Bands Association Judges workshop be selected to be part of the adjudication process”.
“…Are we telling those who work hard to see the mas come alive, that it is fair they be awarded similarly to those who pick up their phones, shoot emails, discuss colours and sizes and with a swipe of a credit card or wire transfer, costumes get to St. Lucia? These same bands enjoy the same subventions as those who locally produce the mas,” the release said.