With Spicemas and Panorama less than five months away, the Grenada SteelBands Association (GSA) is still beset by infighting.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the current executive led by Jason Skeete has written to the Minister of Culture, Senator Nolan Cox warning him of reprisals if the government entertains another group that is made up of some pannists associated with three of the major steelbands on the island.
Skeete confirmed to this newspaper the existence of the letter which he said was signed by seven of the eleven bands – Florida All Stars, Pan Ossia, Pan Lovers, Grand Roy Pan Angels, New Dimensions, Melodic Symphony, Melody Warrior.
The letter was reportedly not signed by Flow Commancheros of St. Paul’s, Republic Bank Angel Harps of the Carenage, Food Fair/Suzuki Pan Wizards of River Road, and Rainbow City Allstars of Grenville in St. Andrew.
According to Skeete, the seven bands were forced into this approach following reports that three particular dissident members of the association are seeking to institute their own body as the official association for steelbands in Grenada.
The three members have been linked to a no-confidence motion to remove Skeete as President at a 2018 General Council meeting, one year after he was elected to the post.
Skeete told THE NEW TODAY that a delay in registering the Association as a non-profit organisation opened the door for the three opposing members to try to take ownership of the association.
“The SteelBands Association from what I learnt when I took office on October 14, 2017 was that the organisation was operating as a business only, and even though business was being conducted for the last 30 plus years, it was important that we have it registered as a proper non-profit organisation,” he said.
He stated that a notification was sent out to all steelbands informing them of the directive to register GSA as a non-profit organization.
“I got that name reserved,” he said. “I got a document from the Intellectual Property office on 13th of September 2018, indicating that we would have officially reserved the name, the Grenada Steel Bands Association and that was told to the members as well – so we have never left anything out.”
“However, because of the pressing need to deal with problems within the association, the 90-day limit would have passed and it needed to be re-registered. Before we could have gotten to the Intellectual Property Office to re-register it – the day after it was expired – these three members went to the Intellectual Property Office and registered the Grenada SteelBands Association name unknown to anybody.
Skeete described as “illegal” this move by the trio whom he identified as members of the big bands on the island.
In addition, he said the dissidents “called around bands, asking bands to come and join their association and the bands refused.”
“The bands are saying that we are not going to walk out of the association we would have known for the past 30 plus years. You guys were there and we were functioning with you, so we would not move away, now we have a new President and a new Executive and we are sticking with that”, he said
According to Skeete, the letter sent to the Minister of Culture is threatening a boycott of all activities if the rival group is recognised in any way by government.
“What these seven bands have done is that …they have all signed this letter. The bands are saying that they continue to recognise Jason Skeete as the President and the duly elected members of the Executive as the constitution dictates – that they would not engage in any activity that will go against the directive and dictates of our constitution, that they would not be part of and would not support in any way any other competing and or rival organisation to the Grenada Steel Bands Association”, he said.
He added that the seven bands who have grouped together informed Minister Cox that they “are prepared to take full legal action against those members and anyone that’s associated with them for any further attempts to disrupt the association in any way whatsoever…”.
“…They also went on to say that if this rival group is recognised in anyway by any arm of the government or the Ministry of Culture they are prepared to refrain from any further activities, hosted by or endorsed by such body or organisation.
“So, what they are saying basically is whatever activities coming up – Pan Expressions, Panaroma – and these guys are in anyway recognised or associated as part of any other organisation we will not take part in it.
Skeete warned that if the dissident members want to be back on the GSA Executive then there is a legal process for them to follow.
“What these guys have attempted to do which is clear – is to give the impression that they are now running the quote unquote Grenada Steel Bands Association and when you give a false impression of that nature, the last time I checked that can be referred to as being deceitful because we have a constitution and we have a legally voted in Executive and nothing has changed”, he said.
“…Our elections are due no later than the second Saturday in September 2019 and that is when our elections are due and if they feel they want to get back in on the Executive of the Grenada SteelBands Association, they need to offer up themselves for service at the AGM at that election. They’re familiar with the process, but we felt that it was important that the Minister got this letter because you don’t want to go about giving people false impression and try to default people’s minds,” he said.
Despite the actions of the opposing members, the President said the SteelBands which they represent will not be barred from taking part in any of the Association’s activities but “they are going to participate under the rules and regulations that governs the Grenada Steel Bands Association with its current executive inputs”, he added.
THE NEW TODAY has not been able to solicit a response from any of the bigger bands on this latest development.