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NCBA seeks $2m more for Carnival prizes

By: Yvonne Webb

The National Carnival Bandleaders Association (NCBA) is advocating for the Government to also pump $2 million in the National King and Queen of Carnival Competitions. “But not as a first prize to cause chaos and confusion as it did in the Soca/Chutney Monarch Competition,” David Lopez, NCBA president said yesterday. He was referring to the reaction of second place Chutney/Soca singer Ravi B to the victory of Rikki Jai, the newly crowned $2 million Chutney/Soca King, at Skinner Park on Saturday night. Ravi B called on the audience “to pelt something” if they did not agree with the results. They did. Lopez was not supportive of $2 million being given to one individual, especially when the disparity with the second place was so great. “I don’t like how it is being handled. It is unfair for one person to get $2 million, when the second and third place prizes are so far apart.”

Lopez was also critical of this exorbitant sum going towards an artiste promoting the consumption of alcohol, at a time when the road carnage was alarming and the breathalyser had been introduced to curb drunk driving. “We are asking for $2 million to be added to the existing prize structure so all the competitors, not just the first place winner, can get an increase in prizes,” Lopez explained. He pointed out that since 2005, both the National King and Queen have been receiving a cash prize of $120,000. He added: “We have asked for a first prize of $250,000, but we have no response. Every year our budget goes to the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and then to the Government. In every budget we ask for an increase. The last time we got an increase was somewhere in 2005-2006.”

He said the NCBA also had requested increases for both junior and senior Individuals of the Year and Band of the Year, with no success. Lopez said given what was in the public domain, if the prizes were not boosted, he anticipated that the NCBA would be in a better position, “to negotiate strongly next year.”
The 2010 National Queen of Carnival, Rose Marie Kuru-Jaggesar, agreed that the prize money should be more attractive: “We spend a lot of money to put out a costume. Singers win with songs they pay song writers to write. I feel we are entitled to a fair and better prize,” Kuru-Jaggesar said. In an interview, Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston Peters, during a tour of panyards and mas camps in San Fernando, said he had a listening ear and if the NCBA came to him with a feasible proposal, he would look at it and try to accommodate it.

SOURCE: Trinidad Guardian


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