By: Yvonne Baboolal
By early next year the People’s Partnership Government will start putting things in place for the construction of a permanent home for Carnival at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Arts & Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters said yesterday. Peters was responding to questions about the National Carnival Bandleaders Association’s (NCBA) cry for a permanent Carnival centre. NCBA president David Lopez, said masmen were happy to return to the big stage at the Savannah but disappointed they were going back to the same temporary arrangement. Peters said the structures which the Government were erecting at the Savannah for a Carnival “place” were only temporary. He added: “It’s not a permanent Carnival centre but there will be a Carnival centre.
“Early next year, please God, we will have a competition inviting architects to come up with a design for the Carnival centre. “The winning design will be used to construct a permanent home for Carnival.” The cost? “I have no cost at this minute,” Peters replied. “We’ll do the competition first and then work that out.” NCC chairman, Kenny de Silva, said they were trying to create a more attractive and appealing area for Carnival in the Savannah for 2011. He said they would be landscaping, putting down flower beds and planting trees in the Savannah. “We will be working with the Savannah Management Committee and the Agriculture Ministry to bring it back to the pristine appearance it had at one time.”
For the reconfiguration of the Carnival “place” he said they were not going to interfere with any more green. He added: “We will be embracing architects and engineers and we’re going back on the same footprints. We’re going back to the paved area where the North Stand stood and we’re removing a building at the top of Frederick Street in the Savannah to put the Grand Stand.” As for the cost, he said, the project had to go out for tender before they could determine the figures. But he gave an idea. “Up to 2006, it cost $1.3 million to put up and take down the North Stand and they made a profit of $6 milllion,” he said. When masmen were moved out of the Savannah in 2007, the then Government promised they would return in three years, Lopez said. He said: “We moved out into the street to support the Government’s plan to construct a multi-cultural arts centre. “We have no problem with the return of mas to the Savannah now. The problem is not having a permanent home for Carnival.
“They are going to put up and pull down the structures and we are going to have the same crowding problem. We’re not moving forward. “Wouldn’t it be better to fast track the Carnival centre?” Lopez asked. Interim president of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco), Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba), said Dimanche Gras was held at the Jean Pierre Complex for a “couple of years” after Carnival was moved out of the Savannah in 2007. “We went back last year but we understand there are plans to put up a much more improved structure that would increase seating capacity.” Resistance, a member of the NCC board, endorsed Lopez’s cry for a permanent home for the Carnival arts. He said: “Calypsonians would have a definite place at a Carnival arts centre. “We also want to establish a museum for calypso history which will benefit tourism and education.
National Carnival Entertainment Centre (NCEC)’s history:
* In September 2007, Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams said work for NCEC had not been formally brought to the market.
* She said demolition and dismantling of the underside of the Grand Stand, the office building and forecourt had been completed.
* She said in accordance with the rules of the contractor, the Urban Development Corporation of T&T, a contract for the dismantling of the building was awarded to Adams Project Management and Construction Ltd in January 2007 at a cost of $789,000, plus VAT.
* She said because construction work for the centre was not formally brought to the market, information on the names of companies that tendered and details of the evaluation process used was not applicable.
* To date, the project has not started.