The $7 million-budget Carnival 2011 themed – ‘Bago Carnival the Magic of Mas and Music’ is set to be different from any Carnival celebration Tobago has ever seen or experienced.
Speaking at the post-Executive Council media briefing on Wednesday (January 12, 2011), THA Secretary of Community Development and Culture Tracy Davidson-Celestine said the fairly new Tobago Festivals Commission has reorganised Carnival celebrations to allow for greater participation, revenue generation and heightened interest.
As an answer to stakeholders’ complaints about the low level of activities leading up to Carnival, the Commission has put in place several pre-Carnival activities. Starting next Friday (January 21), the island will be in Carnival mode with the reintroduction of a street parade from Tambrin Square, Upper Scarborough to the Scarborough Esplanade, where the official launch will take place. The Secretary revealed that afterwards a grand fete at the Gardenside Street car park, featuring conventional steel bands, high level soca artists and local artists, will pulsate Scarborough.
Secretary Davidson-Celestine further reported that along with the traditionally held events, the Carnival season will also see the hosting of the 2nd Annual Educational Arts Festival and a Carnival village on the Scarborough Esplanade – both to be launched also next Friday. The Educational Arts Festival features the genesis, development and vision for Carnival and targets primarily young people. It will be open to the general public. The Division is also set to launch a Carnival village at the newly constructed and commissioned Pembroke Heritage Park and host other community-based Carnival events as well.
Tapping into private and corporate sponsorship to stage Carnival events is high on the Festival Commission’s agenda. Davidson-Celestine said the Tobago House of Assembly has significantly funded the Festival over the years in order to provide a service to Tobagonians, but the objective now was to allow the events to become financially self-sufficient. She added that revenue will also come from tickets sales for shows which were traditionally free to the Public.
“If you look at Trinidad Carnival one thing you note is the level of sponsorship from the private sector, so we are trying to tap into some of that to create that level of excitement here in Tobago. We want to take our product; we want to take these activities to another level and we want to look at the potential or the opportunity for revenue generation and revenue creation. We want at the end of the day that these festivals, whether it be Carnival or whether it be Heritage Festival, can eventually fund themselves,” she said.
The Tobago Festivals Commission under the chairmanship of Lois Leslie recently installed a number of Carnival committees to execute the Carnival activities.
The registration of bands and individuals began on Thursday (January 13 2011).