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November 10, 2009 - Volume 1, No. 17

My Letter to Mr. Keith Diaz, Pan Trinbago's new President

Mr. Diaz, congratulations to you as Pantrinbago new president and your administration that were duly elected on October 25, 2009. I want to thank all the steelbands and their representatives who participated in this historical change for Pantrinbago. I extend to you and your administration my best wishes and wish you success in your tenure for 2009-2012. I also want to wish former president Mr. Patrick Arnold all the best and thank him for his services to the steelband movement over the years. I hope that he continues
to contribute to Pantrinbago and the steelband movement. This vote demonstrates how far steelbands have come when they can change leaderships in a democratic method. Now, comes the hard part for you and the steelbands.

Mr. Diaz, I read your statements to the press on October 28, 2009 and I compliment you for a good start. You said that you saw pan as an important part of Trinbago’s culture and that you wanted to make pan
an important product. That is a good mission. It is important that you continue to communicate with the public as it builds respect for Pantrinbago. It is my desire to see you and Pantrinbago succeed.
As a panologist* with strong steelband roots (City Syncopators, Joyland Synco, All Stars and Boston Symphony) I shall be encouraging and complimenting you and your administration. But, will not remain silent if you stray from the best interests of the steelband movement. I will constructively criticize you when you fail to uphold the objectives of Pantrinbago and the steelband movement.

Mr. Diaz, you mentioned stakeholders and “the necessity of showcasing pan as a tourism product.”
By your count, there are 300 steelbands in Trinbago. Those steelbands should support your list of goals
and objectives. The repairing of Pantrinbago will take time and you only have three years to set your agenda on the road. If you intend to lead Pantrinbago to a new beginning and deliver a world body organization, here are four items that you must immediately address:

1. Completion and Naming of the new Carnival Center.
2. Building Pantrinbago Headquarters.
3. Updating Pantrinbago web site.
4. Transparency of Pantrinbago.

Mr. Diaz, it is time to confer the most fitting honor on a past president of Pantrinbago.
I want to recommend the name of Mr. George Goddard for the new carnival center to be called
The George Goddard Steelband Performing Arts Center
. The steelbands should petition the ministry
of culture and other stake holders to make such a proposal come true. This should be done while the new carnival center is still in its building stages. Don’t wait until the horse bolts the barn. It is time that Pantrinbago and steelbands recognize past presidents who put their time, money, family and friends on the line for the steelband movement. We have to start naming our institutions and awards after contributing pioneers of the steelband movement who have given their blood, sweat and tears to push steelbands forward.

Mr. Diaz, for carnival 2013, Pantrinbago, steelbands, panjumbies and the nation will be celebrating the
50th Anniversary of Panorama
. You have three and a half years to plan this Panorama spectacle.
This will be an area for you to get the corporate sector involved. Pantrinbago can produce this historical 50th Panorama Anniversary of Panorama by opening up the Panorama competition to world steelbands and hold a 50th Anniversary WORLD STEELBAND PANORAMA in 2013. For this, Pantrinbago should hire
a Panorama production manager. Panorama’s 50th anniversary deserves that The World Steelband Panorama be held in The George Goddard Steelband Performing Arts Center. That would certainly
grant Pantrinbago world body status.

Mr. Diaz, after 62 years, the steelband movement still does not have a permanent headquarters, museum
or steelband library. Pantrinbago’s temporary headquarters on Victoria Avenue is a disgrace to an organization that claims ‘world body’ status and to the steelband movement. Pantrinbago and steelbands should demand the completion of the new headquarters for the nation’s world body representative for steelbands. I ask you: Do steelbands care? Where is the steelbands library? Pantrinbago should be collecting and supplying panjumbies with pan music from the 1960s. Pantrinbago should create a
steelband project
to collect all recorded pan music from the 1960s and Panorama (1963-1980) and put them on Cds to be made available to the public at reasonable prices. Of course, steelbands should share
in their respective recording sales. It is a shame that after 62 years, panjumbies cannot depend on Pantrinbago to provide recordings of Panoramas from 1963-1980.

Mr. Diaz, I urge you to publish on Pantrinbago’s Web site, all the steelband finalists for Panorama finals
from 1963-present. Fortunately, that information is still available. At present, Pantrinbago only publishes the Panorama results for the first three finalist steelbands. Pantrinbago must protect steelbands history
and publish all the steelband Panorama finalist names, arrangers and tune of choice on their web site.
It is very important that Pantrinbago record Panorama statistics for the history books. The steelband movement has to tell our story for ourselves. It is important that Pantrinbago update its Web site to provide all pan information to the public. At present, the site lacks relevant steelband information to panjumbies about the steelband movement. You should request that each steelband provide Pantrinbago with a brief history of the band (founders, place of origin, achievements, etc.) to be posted on Pantrinbago’s Web site.

Mr. Diaz, it is important that you and your administration be accountable to the objectives of Pantrinbago, the public and the steelband movement. I hope that steelbands formulated and submitted their agenda
to Pantrinbago taking into consideration Pantrinbago’s limitations in light of the local restraints that
I pointed out in my previous articles. Pantrinbago should then publish that agenda so that all panjumbies can know what it is that steelbands want from Pantrinbago. More important, I hope that the steelbands who voted realize that they must continue to participate in the organization for it to be successful in carrying out their agenda. This new administration must revitalize Pantrinbago if it is to live up to its
‘world body’ status. Pantrinbago must begin to act as a 21st century steelband organization. I applaud
your call for self sufficiency.

Mr. Diaz, transparency should be the hallmark of your tenure. You should post on Pantrinbago’s web site
a quarterly account of the receipt and distribution of Pantrinbago’s funds received from government.
After all, the government allotment of such funding comes from Trinbago’s taxpayers. The public funding
of Pantrinbago is a noble gesture to a worthy organization. Certainly, the public has every right to demand accountability for the use of its tax dollars. Pantrinbago should also post a list of the 300 steelbands that have paid or not paid their membership dues so that steelbands that are not financially eligible will not be able to nominate person to run for office. Introducing transparency will go a long way of getting the corporate sector involved in Pantrinbago. This will show them that Pantrinbago is a serious organization
on which they can spend their money.

Mr. Diaz, if Pantrinbago continues to ignore transparency the public will continue to see Pantrinbago as
an indiscipline organization with no accountability for their tax dollars. I am not accusing Pantrinbago of misusing public funds. But, I am accusing Pantrinbago of not accounting to the public for the use of public funds. If Pantrinbago is to be taken seriously it must be held accountable to its stakeholders, the public. Trinbago taxpayers are the stakeholders of Pantrinbago since it is their money that keeps Pantrinbago alive.

Mr. Diaz, you mentioned that pan must become a greater part of the education system and you would like to see a full degree in pan music. That is laudable. A world body organization demands world body musicians who can read music. The musical education of young panists is paramount to improve the steelband movement. In today’s entertainment world, every panist should know the tools of his/her trade, music. You mentioned that 75% of players are between the ages of seven and nineteen years old.
I might also add that many are female. How many of those panists can read and write music, the language of their art. The steelbands must get serious and implement musical education in their panyards for these young panists.

Mr. Diaz, will you continue to allow the Panorama to be held in the cow-shed that was built in the savannah for Panorama 2008 and 2009? Where is Pantrinbago pride? The holding of the nation’s grand festival (Panorama) in a cow-shed is a disgrace to the steelband movement. Will the steelbands continue to participate at Panorama in this cow-shed? Don’t steelbands have any sense of pride in their art? Pantrinbago and the steelbands should demand more respect for their art?

Mr. Diaz, we are three months away from 2010 carnival and Pantrinbago still has not posted the exact date when 2010 semi finals will be held. Does Pantrinbago have a set date for 2010 semi finals which it can post months ahead on its web site? Certainly, Pantrinbago can post the semi finals date as early as April so that panjumbies can prepare their schedule for carnival. And, now that you are returning preliminaries to the savannah, for which I thank you, you could also post the exact date of preliminaries on Pantrinbago Web site.

Mr. Diaz, the claim of Pantrinbago to be the ‘world body for steelbands’ must be transferred to action.
Such a claim comes with the responsibility to pay heed to what is happening in the world of steelband internationally. Pantrinbago must present a new model for Panorama. One important distinction of Trinbago’s carnival from other carnivals is our Panorama. Pantrinbago can do better to showcase to the world a more aesthetic display of our national instruments. Steelbands should lose points for dirty pans, rusty pans, tying up pans with strings, etc. It is time steelbands learn how to present themselves to the world for our national festival, Panorama. It is distasteful to be viewing Panorama on a DVD and see how some steelbands look. Panorama is the steelbands national brand. Steelbands are not just playing for Trinbagonians anymore. They are playing for the world and the world is looking at them for leadership.
We need a new model for Panorama.

Mr. Diaz, it is time for steelbands to get rid of the canopies for Panorama. While it might have served its purpose to protect steelbands from the burning heat on the road in the past, it has outlived its purpose and has no place in the Panorama. Here is what Jit Samaroo said in 1991: “I prefer to see and hear the orchestra without these canopies. With them, the band looks like a shanty town and spectators cannot see the players' movements - which is part of the beauty of any band.” It is time to remove
the canopies. This is what Terry Joseph said in 2000: “More than 36 years after the first canopies appeared over pan racks, not just the actual construction but the largely useless concept seems extraordinarily difficult to dismantle.” “Today, no self-respecting steel orchestra goes to the annual Panorama competition without these frightfully expensive sheet-metal constructions, even in the absence of any evidence that canopies help their music.” Mr. Joseph concluded: “Perhaps now that scientists have declared them [canopies] irrelevant to most pan applications, we may be spared the sight and cost of canopies which, given the new information, have nothing to do with sound and only hide the players and the truth.” Exodus removed them in 2008 and 2009 and will in 2010.

Finally, Mr. Diaz it is time to bring back all steelbands on the road for carnival. It is a pathetic sight to see the absence of steelbands on the road for carnival. Pantrinbago must come up with the right mixture to encourage steelbands to return to the road for carnival. Is it money? Is it that steelbands have lost their pantastic pride of playing on the road for carnival? Is it that the young panists (who make up the majority of players) are not concerned with that part of steelband history? If so, then it is time for Pantrinbago and steelbands to re-educate young panists about steelbands’ role on the road for carnival.

*Panologist - person who studies the music, history, stories and pioneers of the steelband movement
and writes about it.

The last time I saw Khalick, he was liming by Pembrokers with O’Halloran, Skadi, Sepi, Bristol, Joe Ball, Stanley and Sweetbread.

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