The zero-sum game of pan

TT – Culture Matters

“The war was drawing to an end in 1945 and the colonial authorities decreed that when the air raid sirens sounded to declare victory on the European front, citizens would be allowed to congregate in celebration. On VE Day, March 8, 1945, the steelband was presented to the world for the first time. Throngs of happy revellers paraded the streets of Port of Spain and in the words of a reporter for the Trinidad Gazette, “They waved branches and chanted songs to the accompaniment of music thumped out of old iron.”

– Extract from Government website

IN JANUARY 2019, almost 74 years after VE Day and almost 84 years after metal replaced bamboo at Carnival time, a new reality hit the pan fraternity and people of TT. Pan Trinbago, the governing body for pan, informed that it was not in a financial position to pay the $1,000 payment to pan players for Carnival, and worse, that payments for 2018 were not going to be possible either.

I read the words of recently elected Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore promising to make our pan industry viable: “…We will ensure that that drum-making factory…will bring in millions, upon millions, upon millions so that our players won’t have to look for a $500.”

Other figures associated with pan are just as bewildering – $100,000 to transport a band from San Fernando to Port of Spain, $200,000 to sponsor a relatively small band, $500,000 for a large band to prepare for Panorama.

However, after more than 80 years of evolution, the numbers still do not add up.

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