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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Local artists feel left out of official Caribana events


Above is a link to Queen Machoomehs' latest story. Please check it out.

I was planning to blog on almost the same exact topic as she touches on. I was reading the Caribbean camera last night http://www.thecaribbeancamera.com/ and they were talking about the same topic.
You see, we have quite a few local calypso artistes here who are putting out a quality product, but they don’t really get the support from the local community.

I WILL PLAY DEVILS ADVOCATE and hit the topic from the alternate view

My feelings are very much conflicted on this topic

The official Caribana governing body is putting on two major concerts this year for the first time. (I say for the first time, because they are finally putting on an event that has the star power to compete with the private promoters.)

The concerts are:
The Machel HD concert and the Imagine music festival (featuring Machel, Destra, Sean Paul and others)

Now, the Toronto based calypsonians are complaining that the festival receives taxpayers’ money, as such, the local guys should be included in the show. They also complain, those Toronto calypsonians who were invited were only offered a couple hundred dollars as an honorarium while the international superstars are making big money.

Caribana, has a long history of running at a loss, and has accumulated a substantial debt over the years. The new administration has been given the mandate of making the festival profitable and to adequately account for public funds.

The critics are well aware that the government grants that Caribana receives is, a drop in the bucket compared to the costs associated with running the event. I know this because some of the same critics were former spokespeople for Caribana in previous years and they told us this.

It is clear that Caribana needed to look for alternative revenue streams.
So you ask yourself, who in the past has made serious money off the festival?

The hospitality industry, concert promotersand private clubs, innovative band leaders, and the government via tax dollars.

Now they can go cap in hand and whine about how much tax dollars the government takes and they need to support the arts. But, they have been doing that for years and it only gets you so far.

The organizers have rightly decided to put on a couple concerts that they hope people are willing to shell out top dollars to see. Hoping to generate profits which in the past has gone into the pockets of private promoters versus being re-invested to grow the festival.
Now, the youth (you know, they guys without a mortgage and children to mine) who think nothing of spending $50 to get into a concert or $130 for a pair of sneakers.
These are they folks who were often overlooked by the Old guard at Caribana. And with the exception of New Generation (sp) and De Farmers (and a couple others), are not really the audience targeted by many of the local performers.

There are calypso Tents, the calypso Monarch competition, Pan Alive, the King and Queen show and “Big People” parties that cater to lovers of traditional Calypso music. This is a smaller market, who tend not to party as often.

I think the HD show, and Imagine weren’t designed to target that market.

This is not an issue isolated to Toronto. You change the names of the players and you can apply it to any foreign carnival or even Trinidad.

What do you all think?


Janelle said...

I think that issue happens in every carnival atmosphere. Back home in St.Kitts same thing, they try and put on concerts to generate revenue and they invite Trinidadian soca artists or dancehall artists from Jamaica, and the local calypsonians cry out they are not being recognised. But to draw the crowd they are looking for in order to make a profit, they have to cater to the crowd and give them what they desire. The calypsonians have their showcases in the various tents. We also have an annual music festival that has the same issue many international artists (matter of fact Ne-Yo performed there this yr) and local artists want to know why are we outsourcing, but it really comes down to the almighty dollar. These events costs millions and often run deficits, so organizers have to pull out the big guns that draw enormous crowds, in an attempt to make profit.

Perhaps calypsonians can try an adapt a little to get the younger generation into that genre?

Karabana said...

Hi CaribanaVirgin, the post was written by Trini-in-Toronto actually. :)

While I do feel support should be given to local talent, I admit, come Caribana time, I want to see the big guns from T'dad perform their songs I've been listening to for many months. Now if local radio (FLOW) would give local soca & calypso singers more proper airplay so we can hear them & get to like their stuff, then I'd be more than interested in seeing them perform.

But what it comes down to is yes, $$, & Caribana is ultimately a business, just like all Carnival's are a business. :(

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