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The ‘Not Ready for Prime Time’ Players

Who’s Fooling Who?
Pan Trinbago and the Trinidad & Tobago Government

 

Patrick Arnold - President of Pan Trinbago

Global - Emergency, crisis, calamity...  No less than three of Trinidad and Tobago’s newspapers reported on the financial disaster and  impending doom that have again descended on Pan Trinbago.

Here we go again.  The embarrassing annual  dance between Pan Trinbago (the governing body of all things related to the steelpan instrument in Trinidad & Tobago - at least in theory) and the Trinidad and Tobago Government, has again begun.  Filled with bad timing, missteps, finger pointing, naming calling and broken promises, this annual ritual is a bit silly and tiresome from the outside looking in.  Hey, but we now live in a global news sphere - nothing is strictly local.  Our audience spans every sector of the globe - so when they inquire ‘why can’t Trinidad gets its act together?’ it is clearly not a local issue but one that is played on a global stage in prime time - and in this regard - demands comment.

It may be time for the steelpan fraternity of Trinidad and Tobago to finally seek asylum and protection in another country.  Trinidad and Tobago is after all technically the birthplace of the steelpan instrument.  However, if the steelpan instrument under the guidance and direction of Pan Trinbago is, or is to be, truly part of education, entertainment, arts and culture - clearly this annual ritual of Pan Trinbago begging the Trinidad and Tobago government to honor its financial obligations, has run its course.   Art and culture are not treated in this fashion anywhere else in the world - far less something that has been designated a “national instrument” in its own country.

In a When Steel Talks interview - Patrick Arnold, president of Pan Trinbago says Trinidad government “not very serious about culture.”  7-3-2008

It is time for Pan Trinbago to wake up and smell the coffee.  From the perspective of those who pay your bills (the Trinidad & Tobago government) you appear to be a burden and have obviously outlived your usefulness.  You are, for lack of a better expression “dead men walking.”

The Trinidad & Tobago government clearly has different ideas about culture, the steelpan artform and how it wants to proceed presently and in the future.

Moreover, if the Trinidad and Tobago government views the steelpan fraternity under guidance of Pan Trinbago, as nothing more than urban terrorists masquerading as musicians (talented they may be), then the government should deep-six the organization and stop playing games, and thereby disrespecting and frustrating the dedication and efforts of the thousands of pan musicians in the country.  Every time Pan Trinbago goes through this begging crisis - the organization, and Trinidad & Tobago pan lose much esteem in the eyes of others globally.  And indeed it has become the butt of many jokes.

By the way, what exactly is the Trinidad and Tobago government’s plan for Vision 2020 as it relates to pan?  Does anyone in Pan Trinbago know?  Does the pan community know?

On the other hand, since Pan Trinbago knows this issue arises every year, why has it not taken the necessary steps to be regarded seriously by the government, or to become self-sufficient?  In the land of pan [and oil, the country’s ‘black gold’], how is it that Pan Trinbago is not one of the most revered and replicated organizations in the Caribbean?

Let us however, give credit where credit is due.  Pan Trinbago has done many good things for pan and pan musicians, and is in fact made up of many committed leaders who head steel orchestras in their own right.  But the reality remains that if Pan Trinbago does not have a leg to stand on, or a butt to sit on, it is because it has shot itself in different parts of the body so many times.  If your partner cannot dance or does not want to dance with you - it ain’t going to happen.  Perhaps it is time for Pan Trinbago to find a different dance partner in place of the government, or begin a solo performance.

Since Pan Trinbago is not one of the ministries of the Trinidad and Tobago government it will always be a stepchild begging.  And begging is just that - begging - being at the mercy and whims of others.  It is time for those in the land of pan to show some smarts and initiative and come up with a different business plan/modus operandi.  The current one is broke.  Just a reminder to the Trinidad & Tobago government and Pan Trinbago in case you were unaware  - ready or not - prime time is now, and everybody is watching.

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