The Spicemas Corporation (SMC) is now in a better position to manage the August Cultural Festivals.
Legislators met in Parliament last week Tuesday to give teeth to the overall operations of Carnival through the Spicemas Corporation Amendment Bill 2017 which went through all three stages in the Lower House.
Tourism Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen who piloted the Bill said the amendment is geared at both enhancing the Carnival, and the income generation.
She said the primary objectives of the Bill are to improve and clarify the statement of the functions and powers of SMC, to improve the system for granting of licenses to operate a Carnival festival or activities with added restrictions, to provide for conformity with the Public Finance Management Act 2015, and to provide for effective coordination with the Grenada Cultural Foundation (GCF).
She told Parliament government has been significantly subsidising Carnival annually and a lot of other cultural activities that should also be seeking to generate income.
“We never seem to generate enough money to offset our costs, and even to make a little extra,” she said.
Minister Modeste-Curwen told her colleague Parliamentarians that since a number of the activities would have financial implications, the management of the funds is very explicit and detailed in the Bill.
She stated that under the new regulations, SMC has the authority after the launch of Carnival to ensure that any private activity held during the designed Carnival period to the Sunday following the second Tuesday in the month of August, that permission and license have to be sought and received before the activity can take place.
Failure to do so, she said will result in the organisers of the private event having to pay a penalty fee of 40 percent of the proceeds taken at the show to SMC.
“If that fee is not paid, then it is an offense that is liable to a summary conviction of a fine not exceeding $50,000 or a term of imprisonment of no more than one year,” the Minister told Parliament.
This year’s Carnival is scheduled to be launched on April 22nd.
In addition, through the amended Bill, SMC will also be given authority to approve the material content of calypso and pageant shows in order to ensure compliance with State Laws.
“Some calypsos have some explicit language that if somebody said it anywhere, perhaps the police might want to pick them up or people will take offense, but it seems as though in some circles, those kinds of words are accepted and we have not been, over the years, able to really manage this or to vet it, and to make recommendations as to what should or should not be put into the public domain,” she said.
There has been no official reaction from calypsonians to this addition in the bill.
The parliamentarians also made changes to the bill governing the Grenada Cultural Foundation (GCF).
It was amended to provide for a more cohesive approach to culture in Grenada.
The Cultural Corporation Bill 2017 seeks to harmonise the management of all public festivals, and to regulate all of the cultural corporations.
According to Minister Modeste-Curwen who presented the Bill in parliament the Spicemas Corporation Bill, the Carriacou and Petit Martinique Festival Sport, and the Grenada National Museum will be dealt with under the amendment.
She spoke of the Division of Culture over the years having to grapple with how it can harness and manage the local culture in an effective and efficient way to allow growth and development, and to give some new dimensions to culture.
She noted that although different bodies have been established to manage the affairs of culture, it was still recognised that there is duplication and shortfalls.
“We need an umbrella body that will provide cohesion and a better management, better control of what takes place,” she said.
The minister indicated that GCF will be authorized to manage funds, and has permission to borrow money once it gets the support of the Minister of Culture and the Minister of Finance.
In addition, the law mandates GCF to maintain the festival facilities, and provide oversight for all festivals, and to organise and produce other festivals and other celebrations.