Despite a payment of just over quarter of a million dollars to compensate the island’s steelbands for the failure to hold Panorama in 2017, a number of the leading pannists in Grenada are still calling for the dissolution of the Spicemas Corporation (SMC) and the firing of its Chief Executive Officer, Kirk Seetahal.
A total of $233,000.00 was paid out to the eight steelbands that were down to compete on Pantastic Saturday (August 12) with each band receiving $29, 125.00.
In interviews conducted by THE NEW TODAY with several members of the Grenada Steelbands Association, some are still demanding the dismantling of the SMC governing board in order to prevent the fiasco that occurred in Spicemas 2017.
The panorama competition was called off after the organisers failed to erect a stage in time for the show at the National Stadium at the Queen’s Park in St. George’s.
The Steel Bands Association reacted to the “no-show” by calling for the winning prize of $48,000.00 to be paid to all bands but the proposal was rejected by Cabinet which counter-offered with an appearance fee of $20,000.00 to be paid to each band.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the association found that to be insufficient and asked for the pool of money that should have been paid out on competition night to be shared equally among the eight bands which amounted to $233,000.00.
President of the Steelband Association, David “Peck” Edwards told this newspaper on Tuesday that the monies finally agreed upon comes at a great loss to most of the bands.
“We are happy that this fiasco came to an end because we have been going back and forth on this but, I cannot say that we are satisfied because we would have lost a lot”, he said.
“We invested much more than what we received. By accepting the pool and everyone receiving the same monies while that displays unity, most bands would have spent in excess of $29,000.00 – it (the money paid) comes at a loss for many of the bands”, he added.
According to Edwards, if the Panorama competition had taken place, the top three bands would have received more than what the association would have settled for.
He called for an increase in prize money for panmen going forward in 2018.
“With that loss going into 2018, if we can get a bit more to cushion what we had loss (that) would be good”, he said.
Member of Flow Commancheros, Stephen Greenidge told THE NEW TODAY on Monday night that the problem with pan can only be solved with the firing of the entire SMC Board.
He said: “In terms of being happy, we would be happy to see the Prime Minister or the Minister of Culture fire the entire SMC Board – that is what we would like to see in terms of us going forward. That would be the first step in making sure the same thing doesn’t keep repeating itself. It wasn’t just this year, it was last year and it was something that has been building.
“So, one of the best ways to ensure that something doesn’t happen like this again, and not just with pan but with any Carnival event, is to dissolve the SMC Board and have a new set of people who at least know what they are doing and for us to stop putting square pegs in round hole,” he added.
Devoted pannist, Karrie Fortune believes that more monies should have been given to the bands in light of the 2017 Panorama fiasco.
“I believe that more could have been requested to cater for the disrespect meted out to the bands of not having the venue ready for Panorama on Pantastic Saturday night, which was no fault of theirs. A share of the pool is a win to the body (SMC), who had that responsibility of ensuring that Carnival 2017 was a success including Panorama”, she remarked.
“…I join hearts and hands with all pannists to continue pressing for the resignation of the SMC Board, especially the head of logistics, who doesn’t seem to have Steel pan at heart, as he did not see it fit to have the venue adequately prepared for the staging of Panorama 2017”, she said.
Also speaking to this newspaper on Tuesday was Brian Sylvester, Manager of Republic Bank Angel Harps, who believed that some the bands were cheated out of being properly compensated for the competition.
Sylvester said, “While we were heartened by the speed and interest from our government in settling the issue, we must however, note that not all bands, especially the larger ones, would have been appropriately compensated”.
He stated that “in the interest of our culture, the pan movement and the financial constraints of our country, the offer was accepted”.
“…We now await the findings of the investigating committee and the actions thereafter, as a key element in moving forward from this disastrous past two years of pan, under the present SMC and its leadership”.
This is obvious reference to the Colin Dowe-led committee set up by Cabinet to determine the reasons for the failure of the 2017 Panorama competition.
Although, Suzuki Pan Wizards was not a part of the eight bands that were down to compete in Panorama 2017, member of the band, Michael “Blaize” Robertson stood in solidarity with the association in the battle with SMC.
“From a Steelbands Association point of view, I think we are quite satisfied with the way in which the new Minister (of Culture, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen) handled the matter. We have a lot to work out.
We have outstanding short payments from 2016 and even 2017 but we are hoping that financial and other issues will be worked out before the year ends”, he said.