The Grenada Steelbands Association (GSBA) has blamed the state-run Spicemas Corporation (SMC) for the cancellation of this year’s Panorama competition due to the lack of a stage for the panmen to perform.
“It’s not our responsibility, it is (the responsibility of) Spicemas Corporation (SMC) (to provide the stage for the National Panorama Competition)”, said GSBA President, David “Peck” Edwards.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Thursday, Edwards said it was up to SMC to provide the platforms for the individual known as “Double D” who was contracted to build the stage at the national stadium at Queen’s Park to hold the National Panorama competition.
His comments came against the backdrop of statements made at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Culture and SMC last week Wednesday to address the national embarrassment caused by the cancellation of one of the premier events in the annual Spicemas festival.
The officials pointed accusing fingers at “Double D” who failed to deliver on his promise to have the stage ready in time for Panorama which should have been held on August 12.
The lack of a platform for pannists came to the fore during the holding of the junior Panorama competition on August 5 as the competing bands were forced to play on the open ground at the stadium.
According to Edwards, there was an agreement after the event that the senior tournament would be held on an erected stage.
He told this newspaper that “the ground, especially on grass and sand is not the best platform to have steel bands perform (because) it absorbs sound.”
He recalled the difficulty that Judah Sounds and Lights, who rented the stage to SMC for Panorama last year had with panorama because of the weight of the canopies and the chassis.
Edwards said it was agreed that a stage would be constructed at least three feet high in front of the Junior Murray/Rawle Lewis stand at the national stadium for the 2017 Panorama.
Head of SMC, Genevieve Gibbs told reporters at a press conference that ”Double D” was “fully paid” to build the stadium on August 9,- three days before the event.
She said that he agreed to have the stage delivered in time for Panorama.
In error, Gibbs said that the amount paid to “Double D” was $900.00 but investigations conducted by this newspaper revealed that a total of $9, 000 was handed to the contractor to complete the work.
The SMC head indicated that a team had visited the project three straight days running and noticed that nothing was being done by the contractor.
“…We visited the project again early Saturday morning (the day of Panorama) and nothing was done”, she said.
According to Gibbs, it was at this point that contact was made with Stephen Greenidge, the arranger and senior pannist with Commancheros Steelband, who had recommended “Double D” for the work.
She spoke of Greenidge giving assurance that the contractor would start work on the stage at 7.00 a.m on the Saturday morning.
“At 2.00, we again visited the compound and Mr. Grieenidge was there assisting with the construction of the ramp (and that was when) he (Double D) then indicated that they needed an additional 45 platforms (sheets of plywood to finish the job)”.
Gibbs went on: “…When we got to the stadium at 6.00 p.m (two hours before the start of Panorama), the stage was probably three quarter (Completed)”.
According to Edwards, during a meeting on August 2 between GSBA and SMC, the carnival body had told the association that “they couldn’t find a contractor to build the stage” and wanted Panorama to be held at the Tanteen Netball Complex.
“…We said “no”, it is not the suitable spot for Panorama because unlike the Junior Panorama where the bands are limited to 30 players – (the senior) bands are as big as 90 players in Panorama”, he said.
Edwards stated that the venue was not suitable for a Panorama competition given the number of surrounding walls in close proximity to each other.
He said: “To have walls surrounding and a concrete base…it’s just too much sound in one facility. It would be too much sound in one facility (and that) judging the competition would also be an issue as the judges would have been too close.
The GSBA President indicated that one of its members, Greenidge, said he knew someone who might have the material needed to build a stage at the stadium for Panorama.
Edwards spoke of Greenidge calling “Double D” on the phone to ask him if he had enough scaffolding and other materials to build at least a 40-feet by 60 feet stage, which was the minimum pan needed for Panorama.
“DD (Double D) indicated that he had some material but only had 30 pieces of (the) flats (plywood) that would be needed to cover the base of the stage. Spicemas had in its possession from the Junior Panorama flats for 28 feet by 56 feet, which it was our understanding (that) they would make available to DD to finish completing the stage.
“So we were of the understanding that DD would provide the rigging and the foundation for the stage, 30 platforms and the remains would have been provided through Spicemas for the completion of the stage.
However, the contractor reportedly encountered a major setback when he arrived at the stadium on August 9 to start work on the stage as the authorities at the facility informed him that they did not received instruction from SMC on erecting the platform.
“So DD could not have started the stage as was intended, that was the first set back. Secondly, as DD had already indicated, he did not have the number of platforms that were needed so he went ahead and put up the base with his scaffolding and the platforms that he had (and was) waiting to get the use of the platforms that Spicemas had in their possession (for) the Junior Panorama, only to find out that maybe one of the service providers came and took the platforms that may have been rented to Spicemas for a period of time. So that is not DD’s fault…you cannot blame DD for the stage not being completed”, Edwards declared.
He is laying the blame totally on SMC for not ensuring that everything was done to ensure the erection of the stage.