Controversy over Spicemas Theme

Archie Bain – the man at the helm of the promotion of the annual carnival

Archie Bain – the man at the helm of the promotion of the annual carnival

“Who needs a theme?”

That’s the question Culture Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel asked reporters in response to questions about the dismantling of the Spice Mas theme for Spicemas 2014 – a mere hours after the launch of the national festival.

Several reporters decided to quiz Minister Otway-Noel after last week Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives on the scrapping of the Spicemas 2014 theme “Spicemas  – the Mecca of Calypso and Soca”.

The reporters were left in a state of shock and surprise at the response given by the female government minister.

“We don’t need a theme, what we need a theme for? We need a theme? You know what I mean. The thing is, what we want to do is ….to shake things up….”, she said.
“… We have to do things differently, we have to dare to be different, we have to be a little more radical, you know…”, she added.

The government minister noted that there were some public concerns about the theme chosen by the SpiceMas Corporation and it was felt that the approach taken in relations to the Spice Mas theme, was not the correct one and as an “open minded” Government, “we just decided to drop it, cause we don’t need a theme”.

“We want to include people opinions; we want to hear what people have to say and it’s good, people raised pertinent comments and issues, so, … the Board (Spice Mas Corporation) agreed it is the appropriate thing to do (drop the theme).

According to a report in another media entity, the Chairman of Spicemas Corporation (SMC), Alister Bain was quoted as saying that the theme selected was not a true reflection of Grenada’s status with regards to the development of calypso and soca in the Caribbean.

Bain’s comments are in sharp contrast to statements being made by the Culture minister.
“I can confirm that we are reviewing the theme to make it more reflective of Spicemas activities and event,” said Bain in another publication.

Since the formation of SMC, the board has adopted a theme every year for the carnival events.

Bain said that in past years, Grenada focused more on Pan, Traditional Mas such as Jab Jab and Shortknee but the intention this year “is to focus on calypso and soca and its impact on the celebrations.”

“The idea is to put our Grenadian calypso and soca artistes in the spotlight, let the world know who they are and the contribution they are making towards the artform. Carnival is our peak celebration for the artistes, and this theme was just aimed at focusing on them as we celebrate calypso and soca in 2014,” he added.

When The New Today newspaper contacted SMC General Manager, Amanda Smith on Monday, she informed this newspaper that an update will be given during the week, but cannot comment on the issue regarding the Spicemas theme.

It is believed that concerns arising from neighbouring twin-Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago were partly responsible for squashing the theme – “Spicemas – the Mecca of Calypso and Soca,” as Trinidad is known to carry the tagline the land of Soca, Steel band and Calypso.

Carnival in the Spice Isle is expected to be officially launched on the weekend of May 31.
The venue for all major shows this year will be the Roy St John Playing field in Tanteen, in light of competing cricket matches to be played at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park and reconstruction of the national athletic Stadium by China.

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