Patrick Arnold -
President of Pan Trinbago
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.
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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