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Restructuring the Carnival Product

  • Written by  Dr. Lawerence Joseph

With the exception of a few obscenities, this year’s carnival saw a general rise in the standard of songs pertaining to groovy soca, power soca and traditional calypsos; an improvement in the quality of calypso queen contestants; and an improvement in the number and quality of the presentations of mas bands. 

Moreover there has been a significant improvement in the participation by the general public, both local and foreign, in carnival activities. All the necessary ingredients seemed to have been in place to enable the production of an excellent carnival event, unfortunately however the carnival event was far from being excellent. There is therefore a dire need for the restructuring of carnival in order to bring out the best from this most important national product.

      One of the main flaws in the production of this year’s carnival was the consistent lateness in the commencement of the individual programmes. In fact all of the shows started much later than the official starting time, which occurrence did not go down well with patrons. Besides the continuous boredom, many did not get the privilege of listening to the results of the various contests as they decided to leave those shows prematurely because of their prolonged nature. 

Some shows, which were carded, to start at 8pm did not get started until more than one hour and a half later. Those shows went on to 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock in the wee hours of the morning.

The body, which is responsible for the production of Carnival in Grenada, the Spicemas Corporation (SMC) needs to conduct a proper introspection of its activities for the purpose of improving the product next year. Whilst that body has to be commended for the tremendous amount of work, which it has done in order to put carnival activities in train, there is need for a more professional approach to be undertaken with regards to the production of all carnival activities. Firstly a proper analysis needs to be made regarding this year’s carnival in order to identify its various strengths and weaknesses. Bottlenecks, which affect the smooth flow of events, must be identified and adequate measures put in place for rectification.

For example proper stage design is most important. Steel bands should be able to disembark the stage on one of the ramps without hassle whilst another is embarking on another ramp almost simultaneously. The disembarking and embarking bands should not be using the same ramp. A lot of time could be saved this way. Where this and other bottlenecks may be readily apparent they must be addressed beforehand. Following the analysis of this year’s carnival, early planning for the production of next year’s event must be done.

One area that may be improved is in connection with the combination of events. For example, the competitions for King and Queen of the Bands, which are usually held on Dimanche Sunday nights together with the Calypso Monarch Competition, seem to be misplaced. Consideration could be given to having the King and Queen of the Bands Competitions held on the same night of the steel band competition on carnival Saturday night instead. This innovation may well boost the patronage to the steel band competition, which is crying out for more patron support. Moreover the combined event may be carded to start at 6.30 pm instead of 8 pm in order to ensure that that show ends around mid-night.

     It is also recommended that the Groovy Soca Monarch Competition be combined with the Calypso Monarch Competition on Dimanche Gras Sunday Night in order to boost the patronage of the Calypso Monarch Competition, which patronage has been dwindling over the years. The Power Soca Monarch Competition is capable of maintaining a high level of patronage on its own. 

More competitors may be added to the finals in this competition if the Groovy Soca Monarch Competition is removed from this slot to be held on Dimanche Gras Night.

Additionally, very serious consideration should be given by government to having the Seamoon facilities in St Andrew’s fixed especially for the holding of the Soca Monarch Semi-Finals and Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals. If this is done thousands of patrons would be able to sit in comfort to listen to the competitions and many more persons may be encouraged to attend. Of course those who want to jump and wave would be free to do so in front of the stage. The open air Bus Terminus in Grenville is definitely not the ideal location for the holding of these events especially with August being a month when the weather is always unpredictable.

Despite the flaws, in the minds of many, this year’s carnival was the best in recent times, however there is a lot of room for improvement. It is to be hoped that with proper analysis and early planning, next year’s carnival product will surpass all those which have gone before.

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