$30m will be well spent on culture, jobs


National Carnival Commission chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters. –

NATIONAL Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said on Tuesday, $30 million will be well spent to keep Carnival alive and provide jobs to artistes and support staff.

He told Newsday, $30 million was “a little bit of money to do what we are doing.

“Carnival would normally cost $150 million or thereabout but, in this case, because it’s a taste of Carnival and our economic circumstances are not very healthy right now, we are going to make do with whatever we have.”

He said investment in Carnival brings a healthy return into TT, especially relative to other carnivals.

The 2022 budget’s draft estimates of expenditure gave the NCC $36 million, compared to 2021’s allocation of $36 million and revised estimate of $29 million.

Peters agreed Carnival 2022 was a showcase and an advert for Carnival 2023.

“Yes it is, because we have to keep the name Trinidad and Tobago Carnival alive and in people’s eyes and mouths in other parts of the world.

Asked about critics saying the sum was too big or too small, he said, “People criticise the sun when the rain is falling, and vice versa. So who am I?

“Criticism is part of our democracy. Let them criticise. I’m fine.”

He said the money will be spent on infrastructure, prize money and other usual Carnival expenses.

“Right now we have 100 and something people working up in the Savannah who haven’t worked a place for more than two years.”

Peters said many artistes who rely on Carnival have had little work during the pandemic and some got government grants.

“But in this case, we are giving them the opportunity to work for their money and to do the things they love the best – to perform for people.

“People themselves want an opportunity to go out there. People want to exhale.”

Peters hailed the Prime Minister over Carnival 2022 and promised to run it safely.

Newsday asked what size crowd the NCC envisioned at its events, given the covid19 threat.

“It depends. All the venues are cut down to basically half of what they are. The Savannah could hold about 6,000 people in the Grand Stand. We are going to put only about 2,000 people in there if that much show up.”

He said about 2,000 patrons could fit in pods in the North Park, replacing the North Stand.

“Pods are put there for the safety of everybody. It restricts the movement of people in a particular way to make it manageable.”

He said there were about 200-plus pods for patrons to pay for in advance or at the door.

“However you get it, that’s where you’ll be going.” Peters reckoned the entry fee per person to be about $200-225.

Asked about the pod concept, he said, “People are doing that all over the world right now. This one we are doing here right now is an idea Canada used last summer to keep their people safe.”

Asked who were supplying the pods, Peters said, “Of course it’s all the local contractors, the very same people who are accustomed to be building all this thing for Carnival.

“You have to get people with the knowledge of doing these things and who can do it quickly because we need it to be done quickly. It is the said people who have been there for the last 20-25 years.”

Peters said things were progressing very well.

“The construction is well underway and the artistes are all booked. A lot of them are practising and what have you already. So it’s well on its way.”

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