Stakeholders to make the best out of Carnival safe zones

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Hadco Phase II Pan Groove leader and musical director Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, centre, and band members practise at the panyard in Woodbrook on October 2, 2021. The band had planned to have a safe-zone show before the plans for Carnival events were announced on January 19. – PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

Stakeholders in the Carnival industry are ready for safe-zone events.

On January 19, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts announced Carnival events will be limited to only safe zones.

Entertainers, producers and arrangers are saying it will be a push to be ready in time for the short season, but they welcome the opportunity to perform, create and earn an income.

Naparima Bowl CEO Marlon De Bique said the venue has been ready and able to accommodate producers and entertainers since November. He said the space has been following the covid19 guidelines for producers, talent and staff.

De Bique said producers and talent must provide proof of vaccination at the time of booking the venue, and the audience is required to show proof of vaccination at the gate before sanitising their hands, doing a temperature check and giving information for contact tracing.

He said while the venue is ready to host safe-zone events, he understands the challenges that creative sectors of the industry are facing.

“All productions need significant time to prepare. It will require a certain level of imagination to pull off events in such a short space of time. While it is an opportunity, it will be challenging for producers and creatives. Producers will need to consider if having shows will be worth it, as in some cases it will be difficult to find sponsors at such short notice.”

Manager of Hadco Phase II Pan Groove Terry Bernard said with the help of its sponsor, the band has been preparing. The band usually has a show called Jazz in the Village on the Wednesday before Carnival which it intended to go ahead with as a safe-zone event long before the announcements.

But Bernard said despite ample preparation the management has decided to push the event to later in the year as covid19 cases continue to rise. He said the band had asked the Ministry of Health for permission to host a Christmas event in the panyard but it was denied.

Asked if the band will be competing in Panorama if there is to be one, he said, “We are fortunate to have a resident arranger and the band has been practising, so we will be ready. It will be a push, but I’m confident we can make it work.”

3Canal’s Wendell Manwarren, right, Roger Roberts, left, and Stanton Kewley perform at their show Revolution Time at The Big Black Box, Port of Spain on February 12, 2020 during the last Carnival before the pandemic. – File photo

Bernard said the band members are sufficiently separated during practices, and observe all covid19 protocols which include sanitising and temperature checks. Two stationary temperature gauges will be installed at the panyard for easier flow when the band resumes having shows at the yard.

Asked if he was happy the Government had given permission for safe-zone events, he said, “Half a loaf is better than none.”

Music producer Jeanine Ruiz of J9 Perspective said many producers have been holding back songs, and now that a safe-zone Carnival has been given the go-ahead, the country is likely to see more song releases. But, she said, “Despite being happy to have some semblance of Carnival, some won’t consider it a true Carnival.'”

She said many artistes who did not plan to be home for Carnival have now changed plans, and some are flying back just to perform at safe-zone events.

Wendell Manwarren of the 3canal said the band has been working on new music for the Carnival season which was already under way when the announcement on safe-zone events was made.

Asked if he thought it was sufficient time to prepare, he said, “Five weeks to make that commitment to get a show executed is a big ask.”

Many people gave up hope for a Carnival as it was a big risk to take, he said, but 3canal has plans and back-up plans.

Asked how they intend to pull off events with such a short time to work with, he said, “We will have to cut our cloth to suit our pockets.”

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