Gaston Browne Administration Must Change Its Tune About Panorama 2024, says Simon

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

In the lead up to Antigua’s Carnival dubbed “The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival,” Hon. Kelvin Simon, M.P. for St. Mary’s South, is sympathizing with hundreds of pan players and enthusiasts who are currently in limbo. He is gravely concerned about the uncertainty surrounding this year’s Panorama competition and the future of steel pan in our country. He is also dissatisfied with the last minute negotiations that left players with few options and little time to explore alternative sponsorship arrangements.

A self-described cultural maven, M.P. Simon believes that the Gaston Browne administration is “playing games” with the country’s culture. Referencing their failure to meet the The Antigua & Barbuda Pan Association’s (ABPA) budget, or a reasonable option to meet their operating costs, he characterizes the government’s position as backward and visionless. Simon is calling on the Prime Minister to review his administration’s position to ensure that Panorama 2024 is reinstated.

“This government’s priorities are in the wrong place and they do not fully recognize the economic value of our culture. Every year they spend money on the ‘One Nation Concert’, which for the most part, features overseas artists. We must do more to develop our local talent,” Simon said.

After painting a rosy financial picture, Simon asks why the government is not in a position to provide greater support to the ABPA. “They boast of record tourism arrivals, and a spike in economic activity after the T20 World Cup and SIDS4 Conference. So why are they haggling over a difference of $100,000 dollars?” Simon asks.

Simon describes pan players as bastions of our culture who have worked night and day to showcase their talents on the national stage. He describes the government’s move as tantamount to a systematic dismantling of our culture and the systems that have been put in place to sustain the art form. “As it stands now, there are no opportunities for the cultural development that our nation so desperately needs for economic recovery and to remain competitive,” M.P. Simon said.

But Simon is suspicious about the administration’s real motives, amid speculation that the country could be headed back to the polls. He asks whether this move could just be another scheme by the government to tug at the emotions of the people.

“We’ve seen this type of “rescue the perishing politics” from the Gaston Browne administration on many occasions. They make an announcement to throw the country in a state of chaos and then “change their tune” to appear as if they are rescuing the country from the confusion that they have created. Let us see if this is just another case of political vigilantism,” Simon added.

The Opposition M.P. contends that the steel pan is intrinsic to our culture and must therefore be preserved. In fact, many believe that the art form was actually invented in Antigua. As the country prepares to celebrate Carnival, Simon believes that the government has failed our pan players, our culture and our country. He suggests that the government still has time “to change its tune” and make cuts in other areas to ensure that the mainstay of our local culture can remain intact.

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