Black Immigrant Daily News
Thousands of revellers on the road in Crown Point to enjoy the inaugural Tobago carnival last October. FILE PHOTO/DAVID REID –
TOBAGO Festivals Commission Ltd (TFCL) CEO John Arnold believes the island has the potential to support two carnivals per year.
Tobago hosted its inaugural standalone carnival on October 28-30, 2022 and plans are already on stream for its second carnival later this year.
The island is also participating in this year’s national festival, on February 20 and 21, which is being dubbed the mother of all carnivals. It has been allocated $9 million to prepare for next month’s event.
“If you are talking about the economic side of it with the accommodation sector and everybody feels happy there is another event bringing people to Tobago and increasing domestic tourism, I would say, yes, it can afford it,” Arnold said on Friday in an interview at the commission’s head office, Wilson Road, Scarborough.
Arnold added the island’s artistic fraternity has already embraced the idea.
“The artistic community will love to have three festivals, anything for them to show off and make money.”
He said the challenge is balancing government funding with the artistes’ output.
“I think once we can understand that, the question is: how do we have agreement?
“That is why I keep making the point about meeting with the stakeholders, consulting, having the discourse, all of these things help with the dialogue so that at the end of the day we are in agreement.”
Tobago Festivals CEO John Arnold –
He described Tobago’s carnival as “accessible and laid back.
“It is a carnival that a person can immerse itself in and not be fearful. It is safe. Those are the features I like about the carnival.”
Arnold, who has been meeting with stakeholders to prepare for next month’s national festival, said there will be greater collaboration with the National Carnival Commission by way of marketing and the sharing of information.
“The mere fact that we are going to be part of Carnival 2023 under this label, mother of carnivals, I think we are going to be doing that right here and that is what is going to be significant.
“We have several regional carnivals and Tobago fits into that snugly as part of the national fabric. There are many places in the country that have good carnivals but Tobago offers a different kind of space in terms of the carnival celebration.”
Arnold said the island’s mas fraternity is preparing feverishly for the event.
“Ms (Jemma) Bedlow (chair of the Tobago Carnival Bandleaders Association) and her team have been preparing since the October carnival. They are so proactive.”
He said on Thursday the bandleaders from the south-western part of the island met with their counterparts in Roxborough.
“They had a wonderful meeting. Like everything else, they will have tension, release. If you don’t have that you don’t have a good meeting.”
Arnold said the association has promised greater participation and a better quality of mas.
“So we are holding them to those two things. We really want the stakeholders to manage the process because the more we do that, we can see them do things beyond the carnival. They can build programmes on their own without feeling as though they need to always depend on THA coffers.”
He added, “I think that is when you start talking about development. That is what will augur well for the space, that people start taking their organisation and do other things with them.”
Arnold said the bandleaders have also expressed interest in having more training and workshops for the mas fraternity.
He added Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris fully supports this idea.
On Wednesday, Ainsley King, chairman of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation’s (TUCO)Tobago arm, told Newsday TUCO Tobago will be focusing on calypso tents for 2023. He said the Afro Queen Show and Windward Calypso Monarch in Roxborough will also be held.