TT – Recognising the importance of the country’s national instrument, Government has approved TT$5 million for the establishment of a Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the financial support will provide steelpan manufacturers with the means to acquire machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw material and training.
The funding will be made available in tranches of up to $250,000, but no more than $1,000,000 per entity.
Gopee-Scoon said Government was intent on seeing the country’s national instrument flourish at the global level with input from industry experts, tapping into the industry’s potential for job creation, increased foreign exchange earnings and economic diversification.
She urged manufacturers and tuners interested in stepping up their operations to take advantage of the initiative.
The Minister noted that the funding would assist in this regard, encouraging the modernisation and the improvement of the quality of steelpan manufacturing operations, ultimately bolstering the export product.
“We are confident that the successful implementation of the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility will lead to improvements in the production and tuning processes and enhance adherence to global quality standards. It will also be an important platform towards sustainable employment and expansion of exports of the only acoustic musical instrument developed in the twentieth century,” she said.
Gopee-Scoon revealed that the MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) will be responsible for administering this Facility due to its experience in technical and vocational training in steelpan manufacturing.
MIC-IT in October 2019 launched a customised steelpan manufacturing programme focusing on knowledge and practical skills in steelpan construction, tuning and fabrication.
The institute also runs a course in Mechanical Engineering Technology with Steelpan Manufacturing which provides training in steelpan construction and tuning, science of sound, sound engineering, music, welding and fabrication, mechanical technology and practical experiences on the varying pan manufacturing and tuning equipment.
MIC-IT Chairman Clement Imbert, who has a long history of involvement in the development of the steelpan, said the institute’s programmes are oversubscribed with very dropouts.
Minister Gopee-Scoon is due to meet with stakeholders to explain the process and identify any additional needs or concerns of industry leaders as she said Government is working to reach the “small man” with the funding.
A call for proposals will be published in newspapers and on the websites of the MTI, affiliated agencies and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).