Pan Trinbago enacts major rule change for Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama

Rule  -- 4.4.2   There are NO RESTRICTIONS on the number of bands players can perform with during the competition

Panorama onstage celebration by victors
Panorama onstage celebration by victors


Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - So imagine that it is the Panorama Finals, and the illustrious veteran house announcer Jemma Jordan is delivering final results to the audience. She is at the point where she announces the second-placed band - and before she can officially name the winner - the members of the first-placed orchestra storm the stage in jubilation. However, some of the celebrators also played in multiple bands in addition to the newly-crowned champions, and some now happen to be sporting the uniforms of those other bands i.e. perhaps the last band they took the stage with. So what does this all mean? Who really won? Is this really a legit competition? Is this a contest or just entertainment? Moreover, does it matter?

This year Panorama 2023, pan players are officially being allowed to perform in multiple steel orchestras - compliments of event organizer Pan Trinbago’s rule 4.4.2. While the ‘have pan will travel’ mentality for hire has been going on for years this is the first time that Pan Trinbago has taken an official position on this somewhat controversial practice.  Many view this move as a very slippery slope that brings into question fair play, integrity and even the purpose of this great event. 

And - what are the rules for the Junior Panorama?

This rule update does however highlight a real issue in Trinidad and Tobago during the annual Panorama season - the participation of more bands than can be supported by the existing pool of players. The situation has for the time being worked positively for a select few players financially - a simple case of supply and demand. And there have been complaints as to the quality of music performances being produced under these conditions.

Can Trinidad and Tobago’s National Panorama still be considered a legit competition? Or is it simply a show like Professional Wrestling, with titles, trophies, etc. (no betting allowed) for entertainment purposes?

So, again, imagine what does it mean when for Panorama, in all the categories (except the large steel orchestras) - results are announced for first, second and third place on finals night - and players charge the stage and dance and prance, but a number of these same players may have performed in those respective top bands?

A cursory check of major Panorama competitions in other countries revealed that respective steelband associations had no hard-and-fast rule against players performing in multiple orchestras within a single competition. However there were instances of individual orchestras that prohibited their members from playing in other bands during the competition while others were flexible in some way.

Rule 4.4.2 may ultimately be the beginning of a movement/process towards player unionization - as there has already been seen, the recent organized movement and gathering of players into a somewhat cohesive posse that maximizes their earning power through their ‘strength in numbers.’  Pan-man and pan-woman representation. What a concept.  After all, one could argue that the pan players have been for years receiving the short end of the stick, in most cases nothing at all. 

For the time being - the legacy large steel orchestras competing in Panorama's large band category have maintained the traditional one-man one-band rule and remain one of the music envies of the world.  Their global musical standing and admiration quotient nationally have not diminished.  The social, cultural and vibrant historical impact of the more than half-a-century Panorama competition is undeniable. 

A fair, equitable and sustainable business model for the next half century is the challenge.

In a related development, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said Cabinet has approved remittances for players for Panorama 2023.

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