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Pandemonium over steel band
The mistake we are making, my friends, is assuming that the problems facing the steel bands of T&T are pan people’s problems, but they are much more than that.
The problems are societal and about national identity, culture, vision and even more.
Trinidadians have not yet recognized that in a failing economy an emphasis on culture and tourism will become a most important part of the nation’s economic security.
Many Trinidadians have been reluctant to appreciate the uniqueness and value of the steelpan, the national instrument.
The most unique and most economically viable part of the culture is the steel band and its related aspects—tuning, marketing of pans etc.
But this can only be exploited to the nation’s benefit if that is recognized and appreciated by all aspects of society, including the Government, the NCC, the steel band leaders, the business sector, and mostly by the public at large.
And the Government can’t just “wash their hands” and leave it up to pan people, it is too important to the nation’s wellbeing.
Because it will take a national investment and a focus on the steel band as a centrepiece of the culture, including the Carnival.
And it will need direction and leadership from all aspects of society including the Government, the business community, and the public.
Such an emphasis on culture should produce benefits in the entertainment sector and particularly in tourism.
The culture must be promoted and marketed with the spotlight on the steel band in such a way as to emphasize the history of the steelpan, its culture, and the superior skills of the pan creators and innovators of T&T.
Increased funds in the national coffers due to tourism based on steel band activities can then be shared with the steel bands since it would be obvious they have earned it.
The steel bands, even with exemplary leadership, cannot solve these issues by themselves.
The problem is us. All of us, not just pan people.
GLENROY R JOSEPH
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