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Mas players threaten boycott

PORT OF SPAIN — Mas players are prepared to withstand a loss of money already invested and go ahead with their proposed boycott of the King and Queen competition if the National Carnival Commission fails to address their requests.

Director of the T&T Carnival Bands Association, Gerard Weekes, made this clear at a news conference at St Crispin’s Church compound, Alberto Street, Woodbrook, yesterday.

He said competitors were not prepared to put themselves through unfair challenges so the NCC could have a good show on its proposed Carnival Friday date.

“Some kings and queens have started work on their costumes, but they are prepared to make the sacrifice. If they have to suffer that loss, so be it,” he warned.

Weekes said if the Kings and Queens of Carnival competition was held on “Big Friday”, as proposed by the NCC, it would not be successful since they could not compete with what is the biggest show for Carnival, the International Soca Monarch competition.

He said they were in full support of the competition being held outside of the traditional Dimanche Gras event on Carnival Sunday, but believe it will be more financially advantageous to stage it on the Wednesday before Carnival rather than the Friday.

“How can the NCBA be self-sufficient if they don’t put forward a proper plan? We do not want to perform for empty chairs,” Weekes said.

“Carnival is bacchanal, but they need to keep the bacchanal on the road, not in the organisation.”

The news conference involved representatives from the mas industry, among them current King of Carnival Roland St George, bandleader Rosalind Gabriel, Curtis Eustace, Dune Ali and David Cameron.

Apart from a revision of the proposed date for the main masquerade event, the TTCBA’s requests include a revision of the proposed changes for Carnival 2013 and an increase in prize money. As it stands, the King of the Bands wins $120,000, an amount they say barely covers the costs of making some of the costumes.

The organisation also wants the NCC to look at the logistics of hosting the event, copyright issues, the adjudication process and poor conditions performers face offstage. Responding to questions about why they felt the plan would not work, Gabriel said if mas were to have any measure of success on Big Friday, the NCC would have needed a proper marketing strategy.

“Three weeks before Carnival and nothing. We are not seeing any real work. If anything is being done it is being done in secret. Where is the marketing campaign?” Gabriel asked.

The organisation said yesterday they had written to NCC boss Allison Demas about their concerns but were yet to receive a response. They will hold a meeting at St. Mary’s RC church hall in St. James to discuss the issue on Thursday evening. (Guardian)

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