Parliament has passed a new piece of legislation that is expected to see the execution of greater efficiency in the running of national cultural festivals on the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The Carriacou and Petite Martinique Festival Act, which brings the festivals held on the sister isles under one governing body, namely Carriacou’s Carnival, Jouvert, Parang and Regatta, was recently tabled and passed in Parliament without amendments after going through all its stages.
According to Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Elvin Nimrod, this body will be called the “Carriacou and Petite Martinique Festival Board,” which will be the “sole body responsible for management control of public festivals held on the sister isles.
He said the new Board would be responsible for “organising and controlling the operation and management of all public festivals, coordinating, promoting and facilitating” the same, as well as “conducting activities or business related to the promotion of the festivals that may be approved by the Festival Board from time to time.”
The Board is also expected to report to the Minister on the development of public festivals and cultural activities and engage in activities deemed necessary for the proper discharge of the functions among others.
Under the new Act, the Minister responsible for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs also has power to add and remove festivals.
Minister Nimrod pointed to the “enormous benefits” that can be derived from these festivals but was quick to point out that “these benefits have never been derived” because of the “absence of a management and governance structure.”
According to Nimrod, “year after year, some individual or groups of individuals emerge and claim ownership of these festivals without any prior planning, institutional memory or continuity.”
He went on to say that this leads to “a change of hands every year” and expressed the view that this move to have an umbrella body to govern the festivals is “long over due.”
Minister Nimrod who is also responsible for the Ministry of Legal Affairs pointed to government’s subvention pumped into each festival every year, saying that “government cannot say that it has been getting its monies worth”.
“An umbrella body with the right administrative (people) brings everything under one umbrella for the benefit of the festival,” he said.
“This has become increasingly necessary since government continues to invest heavily in the various events through subventions, while challenged with the lack of accountability,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Public Festivals Regulation Act was amended removing the Carriacou Regatta Festival, which would now be found under the Carriacou and Petite Martinique Festival Act.
The Act received extensive support from the members of both Houses of Parliament however, when the Bill was being tabled in the Senate Senator Nazim Burke called for proper consultations to be held with the affected stakeholders claiming that there was in fact a “lack of consultations” on the sister isles as it relates to the new legislation.