Minister wants to privatise carnival

PORT OF SPAIN — Recently installed Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr Lincoln Douglas left listeners perplexed when he said during the launch of Tribe Mas Band’s C2K13 presentation Butterflies, Beasts, Bacchanal on Saturday, that he wants to franchise Carnival to individuals or organisations, including foreigners.

Douglas said he intends to invite proposals from anyone who believes they can produce the best Carnival in Trinidad, including people from New Jersey, whom he said he visited recently. The remark did not appear to find favour with those listening.

In fact, minutes into Douglas’ address the guests, which included fellow Government Ministers and stalwarts of the Carnival fraternity turned away from the stage and began to chat among themselves. The din grew steadily louder as Douglas spoke and he had to shout into the microphone.

“Carnival is an artefact of our culture. It grew out of the chaos and riots of our ancestors. The government has a role to play in its evolution so we can have the best product. I am not preoccupied with one art form over another. My preoccupation is that because of who we are we can create products that are world class that people can make a living,” Douglas said.

Douglas said he will only support, “Things of beauty” and that he is watching what the Government puts out financially and what the returns are.

Inviting tenders for the production of Carnival in effect privatises the festival, which means there will no longer be the need for the National Carnival Commission, whose chairman Patrick Arnold yesterday told the Express he received several calls about Douglas’ statement and he was confused.

“I was not there, but I have been receiving phone calls from people telling what the Minister said. I can’t say anything in depth as yet, but I am very surprised to be hearing this. Giving the production of Carnival to some private person will mean no need for the NCC. I don’t know what to say. I will have to hear the Minister first,” Arnold said. (Express)

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