Spicemas 2015 will be launched in Grenada in December, according to Culture Minister, Senator Brenda Hood.
She made the disclosure at a post-Cabinet Press Briefing following the conclusion of a retreat by the Spicemas Corporation to look at the running of the just-ended 2014 carnival season.
Although many pundits blasted the state-appointed body for a shabby carnival season, Sen. Hood described the event as a success.
The Female government minister produced figures pertaining to the financial intake of the major shows held during the carnival season.
She said that six hundred and one thousand, one hundred and thirty nine dollars was the unofficial revenue that was generated in Spicemas 2014.
According to Minister Hood, the Soca/Groovy Monarch Finals generated most of the funds – $366,373, the Children Carnival Frolic netted $32,000, the Calypso Monarch Finals, $37,783, Panorama, $17,439, Calypso semi-final in Grenville, $33,601 and the Queen show $39,644.
She said the Ministry of Finance was asked to give an official figure as regards the total revenue generated for the island as a result of Spicemas.
“I know last year we said $25-29 million – this information came from the (Grenada) Tourism Authority but we feel that perhaps we need to do it again this year and we have asked them because they have the stats people there who can assist us”, she said.
“…I spoke with the PS in Finance (Timothy Antoine) who has agreed that we need to do this and hopefully when that is done and when the information is available at least we’ll have a true picture of the economic value of Spicemas to the whole economy because we believe that it does generate a lot of revenue into the country,” she added.
Sen. Hood stated that despite the “success” of Spicemas in 2004, the retreat agreed that there is still major work to be done in relation to the rolling out of the annual festival.
She made specific mention about the Children’s Carnival Frolic (CCF) as she reflected on the number of challenges that were faced in hosting the event at the Tanteen Netball Complex.
“…From all indications it (CCF) went well, however we were disappointed because the venue was not what we expected it to be. The number of persons that attended, some of them had to go back home because there wasn’t enough space for them to come into the venue”, she said.
“It started extremely late and I’m not making any excuse for anyone, even if the weather was bad there were other issues,” she added.
A spokesman for the Grenada Steelbands Association had blasted the organisers of CCF and pointed to the lack of proper accommodation for the children including the absence of a stage for them to showcase their mas.
He also criticised the organisers for allowing the young masqueraders to make their appearances before the judges on the hot concrete surface at the complex.
According to Sen. Hood, the retreat concluded that early planning should be done to host the CCF and to prevent the reoccurrence of the same problems.
“What we have agreed as it relates to the Children’s Carnival Frolic is that starting now, the committee will commence meetings to put the structures in place to make sure that we do what is necessary, that we have a carnival, a Spicemas better than this year”, she told reporters.
“…We have also said that over the years, the CCF usually brings in lots of revenue, it’s one of the larger events in terms of numbers and in terms of revenue, (but) because of the location (in 2014) again, we were not able to get to that (financial success) ” she said.
Minister Hood spoke of plans for the Spicemas Corporation to engage the schools to get more students to participate in CCF.
“…We are encouraging them to participate in the Spicemas as it relates to the CCF but we would also like them to take part in the parade of the bands and the pageants that we have because we feel that we must engage our young people because they are the ones to carry the art form forward,” she said.
Another problem, which was addressed by the Culture Minister, was the late start of Spicemas events.
She said: “It is not proper to start an event three and four hours (late) and you have people waiting. I was very frustrated as Minister when I noticed how long it was taking to start every event and there is no excuse….”.
The female government minister pointed out that structures would be put in place for every aspect of carnival including the mas bands and calypsonians.
“If you (the artistes) are not there on time then you are not judged because we cannot say, well we are waiting for the mas band to come and we are having thousands of people waiting on the streets, we cannot continue like that,” she said.
Sen. Hood announced that the Spicemas Corporation will be continuing with Carnival City that was held on the grounds of the Public Workers Union (PWU) building on the Port Highway in Tanteen as it turned out to be one of the most successful events for the 2014 Spicemas.
“As you know we launched Carnival in May of this year and starting in June every week for 8 weeks there were events at Carnival City. We must congratulate Waggy-T (Wayne Redhead) for spearheading that efforts”, she said.
She added that both the Carnival Committee and SMC will be engaging Waggy-T again.
“…I always say when something is going well why change it. So we will be working with him again and he also wants to continue with it”, she remarked.
The Minister also indicated that since SMC is mandated to operate year round, it will have to come up with ways to generate revenue to help run Spicemas 2015.
“One of the things that we will be doing is try to partner with promoters because you know there are promoters here that have national events so they are going to be engaging them, they have started the discussions so that they can partner with them”, she said.
“…They are also going to be doing some fund raising on their own to raise revenue so that at the beginning of the (carnival season) next year at least they will have some cash in hand,” she added.
Over the years, the Spicemas Corporation has depended heavily on the annual subvention provided by government and donations from some corporate sponsors like Lime and Digicel to host the annual carnival celebrations.