Sugar MAS Should Remain a Public-Private Venture, Says Carnival Chairman

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 19, 2017 (SKNIS): The future of Sugar Mas in St. Kitts and Nevis is grounded in increased partnership between the public and private sectors. That point of view was highlighted by Noah Mills, Chairman of the St. Kitts-Nevis National Carnival Committee (SKNNCC) on Wednesday’s (January 18) edition of “Working for You.”

The recent carnival season, Sugar Mas 45, ran from November 18, 2016 to January 08, 2017, and saw successful private ventures, including Inception Fete and Cooler Fete. Also a new arrangement in the calypso arena, which was originally questioned by some fans and pundits, also proved to be beneficial.

It involved a decision made by the SKNNCC to follow the traditional model in various Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, and have some Calypso Tents funded by the venues and/or the bands. SKNNCC Chairman, Noah Mills, said the committee paid for all the tents during Sugar Mas 44, each carrying a cost of about $15,000. The calypsonians were paid $50 per performance. This year, the committee funded several tents in St. Kitts and provided financial assistance for one held in Nevis. The stipend for the calypsonians was increased to $75. However, they did even better when appearing at the privatized tents.

“Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of the tent managers and I was informed that this year they got $100 (per performance),” Mr. Mills stated. “So privatization, which was initiated by the carnival committee, actually yielded greater returns for calypsonians.”

However, Chairman Mills warned that carnival – as a fully fledged private entity – may damage the traditional cultural groups. “What would happen to the folklore? What would happen to the Bulls, the Moko Jumbies, the Mummies and everything else?” he questioned.

The committee seems determined to ensure that folklore groups are revived and the existing ones strengthened. It was evident this year as a lecture series was introduced for the first time by the committee. Former Director of the Department of Culture, Creighton Pencheon, engaged audiences in various communities on the “Origin of the Mummies.” Mr. Mills said these sessions were important as they helped to educate the public about the significance of the group and how it relates to our culture. Additionally, the SKNNCC, partnered with the Department of Culture to host developmental programmes for Moko Jumbies and the Bull, which targeted youth.

“Do you think privatization of those components would mean that they will continue? I beg to differ,” he stated.

Chairman Mills reiterated his support for the advancement of local cultural groups and said the complete privatization of carnival would also threaten some of the shows and pageants associated with the annual event, as gate receipts and sponsorship do not at times cover the staging costs.

“It must be a hybrid, it must be a mixed model,” he said, pointing to the need for a continued public-private sector partnership for carnival.

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