NCC’s Gypsy defends $30m cost as necessary

National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters has addressed criticism from some people who believe that Carnival is unnecessary and the $25 million to $30 million being spent to host “A Taste of Carnival” this year could have been better spent elsewhere.

Peters responded to the criticism during an interview on i95.5 FM yesterday evening.

On Monday, the NCC detailed its “A Taste of Carnival” initiative, which will see a number of virtual and in-person “safe zone” events being held from February 4 to March 1.

Pod seating has also been introduced at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain to separate groups of patrons and ensure social distan­cing.
Noting there are some who are against the initiative, Peters no­ted there are many people who depend on Carnival activities for an income.

He said the preparations for the Carnival initiative have created jobs for many people who have been out of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as provided opportunities for those who may have otherwise been engaged in nefarious activities.

He said Carnival brings in much more money to this country and is one of the best investments any country could make.

“Everybody in Trini­dad and Tobago benefits from Carnival, whether you like it or not,” he said.

“Nobody is misspen­­ding the country’s money.”

Peters said there are people who are against Carnival and there are people who enjoy it.

He said those who are against it do not have to participate.

He lamented that some people have the belief that Carnival is “evil”.

“It is because of the notion that Carnival is an evil thing. And anything that we create in this country, you think about it, they say pan is evil, Carnival is evil, calypso is evil. And that is the way we were taught....”

He said other countries have taken aspects of T&T Carnival and polished it and made money from it while T&T does not get the same benefits.

He attributed this to a lack of support from T&T citizens.

“People that don’t really like themselves cannot like anything that you produce. And I continue to say that Trini­dadian people, and I make no apology for it...Trinidadian people don’t like themselves and anything that we create.”

Why promoters, bandleaders left out?

Peters said there have been very favourable responses from interest groups and stakeholders to the condensed version of Carnival set to take place this year.

“Everybody is mo­ving at a pace to ensure that we have a successful ‘Taste of Carnival’,” he said. “Everybody is working with a reduced expectation in terms of finances. Everybody understands that. It is not a full-fledged Carnival that we are having. It is not the kind of Carnival where we have 20,000 to 30,000 people to come into Trinidad and Tobago and bring money for us. It is the kind of Carnival, or snippets of Carnival, that we are putting on where we can utilise this money, this $30 million.”

Asked why event promoters and bandleaders were not included in the “Taste of Carnival” initiative, Peters said those activities are geared towards making a profit rather than for cultural or educational benefits and they attract crowds.

“Their remit is totally different to ours,” he said. “Their remit could be whatever they want it to be for their profit. They look at their profit margin for (everything).

“We put on shows that wouldn’t make one cent for us. But at the end of the day, we hire people from Trinidad and Tobago who wouldn’t otherwise be making any­where else.”