2017 Panorama – Opportunities For Learning

The events of Saturday evening on 12th August, 2017 at the National Stadium, were unfortunate to put it mildly, but possibly inevitable. There is no greater motivation to rise than a view from the bottom, the absolute bottom. We have sadly, I propose, arrived there.

The details of which person(s) did or did not do what will be revealed in due course by others qualified so to discover. This commentary’s focus is to expand the discussion. What is the value of music to us – as a people, as a culture, as a nation?

Let me declare my hand up front. I am a rusty, classically trained musician, church choir member and a world music collector. These facts are the reason I feel compelled to address this topic.

Music is and does many things. In societies like ours where comprehensive formal records don’t exist, it tells our history. Creative efforts engage parts of the brain often under-used. Creativity is unlimited in its application. Its deployment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) could transform our economy and nation.

The music industry itself, once developed, yields careers for many singers, dancers, musicians, producers, song writer, theatre practitioners to name but a few.

However, in order to get to that destination, we have to start with valuing our culture, of which music is a part.

Our devaluation of this artform, I believe is the reason we arrived at the panorama that never happened.

Steel pan or ’pan’ is the only musical instrument invented in the 20th Century by people in our own geographic region. Panorama is its greatest national stage. Compositions are normally produced and arranged locally and played by multiple generations in many pan houses.

Panorama should be a highlight of carnival at its premiere venue, not a sideshow to a weekend of parties. We, the citizens of Grenada, demand it. We must say so vociferously and consistently now and forever, so all will hear and eventually act. These include the organisers of carnival – SpiceMas Corporation Inc., the industry collective – Steelband Association, the policy makers – our politicians, the facilitators – Government departments and staff, the entrepreneurs – party promoters and associates.

Only when our nation elevates the role of music in our society will the travesty of the promised Panorama 2017 be prevented. ‘Pan is we culture!’ We must strive to keep it a part. Our society shall be much poorer without it and carnival’s true significance will fade into oblivion.

As a post script, once we address the last panorama’s issues in Grenada, dare I hope for a panorama in Carriacou carnival sometime soon?

M. Johanna Tamar

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