Earlier start might attract more numbers

From left: Sponsor Kelly Roach (second left) and Kimtara Clarke, along with tent members Kirk Browne (left) and Ras Iley (right).
From left: Sponsor Kelly Roach (second left) and Kimtara Clarke, along with tent members Kirk Browne (left) and Ras Iley (right).

With tent numbers declining, managers of the new Celebration Time Calypso Circus say that perhaps one of the things they need to do is start earlier in the season to attract interest and numbers.

Production manager of the tent, Kimtara Clarke, said while the festival had been given an even earlier start this year, the challenge was the finances available to tents to actually come out before late June or July.

Asked about issues facing the tents today at the launch of the Calypso Circus, which combines Celebration Time and Ragga Soca Superstars, she replied: “I would say over the past couple of years, low numbers. There was a time years ago when a tent would carry twice as many nights and we had more tents at that point in time.

“I think we are down to about 13 registered tents this year and they are all doing an average of five or six nights for the season. So I think it is time we get that number back up.

“That is one of the things I would like to focus on, to start earlier so that we can extend the season a bit more as well, and obviously see how we can bring out more talent, more artistes, because that is where the tent started and what is necessary for the competition.”

It was impossible to get into Pic-O-De-Crop or any of the party song competitions without entering a tent to judge, which made the tents a vital part of the festival in that way as well, she said.

She also noted that sponsorship was yet another crucial challenge tents faced, which had a spin-off effect on other areas.

“I think this year, the first tent is tonight and it is something we are looking at and working on. Tents really come down to sponsorship. It is a cost not only to the tent managers themselves, but also to the artistes in getting ready. We have to also allow them the time to be ready, to make sure when they put their offering out there in the tent, it is a solid one. That is something else we have to focus on.” She noted that this year, as in the past few years, the artists had tried to put their new music out as early as possible, but bringing an earlier opening date for tents meant they had to work hand in hand with these same artists to get them ready for performances earlier.

“We are getting there. Maybe next year we’ll start at the June 1, but it is a work in progress for everyone,” said Clarke. (LB)

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