By Carrema Lewis
The Grenada Steel Band Association (GSBA) has taken a decision to boycott the shifting of last Saturday’s Panorama competition to this coming Saturday (August 19) and called for the removal of Kirk Seetahal as Chief Executive Officer of Spicemas Corporation and for the revamping of its Board of Directors.
President of the Association, David “Peck” Edwards announced the position of the body at a press conference held Wednesday in the wake of the forced cancellation of Panorama last Saturday night at the national stadium.
Edwards, a senior public officer, told reporters that Panorama is one of the premier event of the annual Spicemas festival and should not be held outside of the Carnival period.
Panorama 2017 was inadvertently postponed due to an inadequate stage and what was termed by the pan association as a blatant disrespect to pan players.
Edwards was extremely critical of SMC for the lack of respect shown to the artform.
He said: “…The level of disrespect and the treatment that was meted out to pan is totally unacceptable and as such the Grenada Steel Band Association views such action as being the last straw.
“We’ve been very cooperative over the years. We’ve made a number of concessions to ensure that Pan has been showcased in Spicemas but we think enough is enough and going forward we’re going to take a firm stand to ensure that Pan is respected and showcased properly at our Carnival event,” he added.
The Steelband Association also called for compensation to be paid to all bands that assembled at the stadium for Panorama.
GSBA member, Brian Sylvester who is associated with Republic Bank Angel Harps read from a prepared statement on the issue.
It said in part: “…Members of the Grenada Steel Band Association are calling on the entire board of Spicemas Corporation (to resign) as they have once again proven that they are not capable of handling such a key and critical position.
“In light of the Spicemas Corporation lack of respect to the artform, there will be no Panorama (on) August 19th. Panorama cannot be next Saturday or any other day outside of Carnival…next Panorama as far as we’re concerned is I think 11th of August, 2018. Panorama belongs in Carnival and must be held in that period”, it added.
According to the statement, the steelband body is demanding from SMC that all Bands registered for the 2017 Panorama competition be “fully compensated”.
The issue was also addressed by Edwards who stated that the eight steel bands registered to appear on the stage on Carnival Saturday night should receive in monetary terms what the winner of the competition would have received if the event was held.
“We’ve asked for full compensation. A matter of fact, our position is that all bands should receive $48,000 – this is the first prize because every band came there Saturday night to win. You are not certain which band would have won. So, to pay a band less than $48,000, you are assuming something that you do not know.
“So, fundamentally, we are asking for the pool of money … for all bands to be given equal amount of $48,000 which everybody was coming to compete for.
Edwards announced that SMC was given an ultimatum of August 18 to respond to the request.
The association president outlined to the media the stream of events that led to the cancellation of the Panorama competition.
He said the issues, which surfaced last year with the use of the stage belonging to private promoter Ian “Judah” St. Bernard was not on the front-burner anymore “because we were given the assurance that the stage would have been built”.
“…We were of the opinion that we would have had a proper stage constructed outside of Judah so that Panorama would have been held.
“In the final week we were informed that this stage would no longer be available and we were informed that efforts were made to get other contractors to build a stage which was futile…Spicemas said they had no choice but to resort to Judah.
“…It was said to us that Mr. St. Bernard said that his stage was not designed for pan, which we know…and as such another contractor was engaged to build the stage but as you know the stage was never completed…”.
Edwards blamed “improper and late planning” by SMC for the embarrassment caused to pannists on Saturday night.
He was critical of the manner in which the corporation went about the business of hiring “certain service providers to do certain events” for the 2017 Spicemas festival.
The steelband boss said: “…We have to ensure that when we engage any service provider, that they can provide adequate resources to ensure that our National Product is being showcased without compromise.
“… And from what we have been doing for the last couple of years, Spicemas, not just Pan, but Spicemas has been compromised when you use certain providers,” he added.
GSBA also used the press conference to call once again on government to impose a ban on privately held events on the same night as the national panorama competition.
Two ‘White Shows” were held on the same night as Panorama – one in the stadium itself and the other in St. Andrew.