Tobago Carnival get thumbs up from cultural bodies

Even though Tobago Carnival 2016 was hosted on a significantly lower budget than last year, it’s being hailed as one of the best in recent years.

A number of cultural organisations praised both the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and Secretary of Community Development and Culture Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus on Thursday for financial support despite the country’s economic challenges.

Representatives from a number of organisations were present to announce the results of Tobago Carnival 2016 and to comment on the celebrations at the weekly post Executive Council media briefing at the Calder Hall Administrative Complex Thursday (11th February 2016). They included chairman of the Tobago Carnival Committee Winston Gordon, Pan Trinbago (Tobago Region) chairman Marie Toby, Shirley Cook, chairman of the Crown Point J’Ouvert Committee, and Ainsley King, chairman of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Tobago.

Toby reported that 14 of the 16 Tobago steelbands in competition this year qualified for the national semi-finals in Port of Spain. Eight of these bands reached finals in the three categories of the competition.

“We never did so well,” she said.

Toby added: “All of our bands came in the top ten in each of the categories and I must say as a region we are very proud.”

She also recommended that Carnival Monday in Scarborough be rebranded ‘Steelband and Ole’ Mas Day’, since J’Ouvert was staged successfully in Crown Point and Roxborough.

Toby added: “Some form of incentive should be offered to keep steelband alive in Tobago and we are open to dialogue with other stakeholders on this.”

King said: “We at TUCO always acknowledge every effort and we are committed to the development of this art form in the island.” He said the 2016 calypso season is the best the island has seen “for a very long time”.

According to King, three local calypsonians made it to the national semi-final at Skinner’s Park. He lamented, however, that TUCO is the only cultural body without a home in Tobago.

Still, he said TUCO is pressing ahead to assist Tobago-born Calypsonian Winston Bailey, also known as “the Shadow”, in getting a doctorate. “A lot of research still needed to be done,” he added.

Shirley Cook, chairman of the Crown Point J’Ouvert Committee, said the group enjoyed its best ever Carnival in Crown Point, adding that there was a 75 per cent increase in both visitors and masqueraders. Of the 14 registered bands, 11 paraded before the judges.

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