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Arts Minister to Pan Trinbago: I’ll push you to success
Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas has urged members of the steelpan fraternity to merge their innate talents in the manufacturing of the steelpan with research and development in a deliberate effort to bolster T&T’s position as the world leader in pan.
Speaking at Friday’s Steelpan Awards Ceremony in honour of the 20th Anniversary of Steelband Month, held at the Festival Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, Douglas underscored the need for this necessary shift in the thinking and ultimate approach to establishing a well-constituted steelpan industry. He said if Pan Trinbago officials were slow to the task, he would have no problem pushing them and consequently help the organisation to recognise its true potential should the need arise.
“You will find no greater supporter than me, despite the things that I might say that would push you to the edge. That is my point. Creativity can take place…that is my point. To push you to become your best self…that is my point, to cause you to rethink how you do business, not to oppose you. We can and we must do better. I extend my hand and I extend the support of my ministry to do everything possible so that we can become the best that we can be especially as we organise pan for the rest of the world and the people here in T&T,” said Douglas.
He was speaking to an audience which included Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, former president of the steelpan body Owen Serrette, Fitzroy Henry, president of the Pan Tuners Guild and former government senator and minister Joan Yuille-Williams. Douglas, while delivering the feature address, said the steelpan was an iconic symbol of T&T and its contribution to a people as it demonstrated creating something out of nothing.
He said it represented the struggles and intensity of life, coming from a place of neglect to be one of the iconic symbols of creations in the 21st century. Having the full attention of the large audience that comprised scores of steelpan pioneers, the minister said culture was more than an artifact, but rather was a way of life. “Culture is the very foundation on which we walk as a people,” he said.
“Our foundation is our way of life. It is how we view ourselves in the world. It is how we view our future. It is our understanding of each other, the way we treat each other. Our views about our women, our children. “The culture ministry is the most important ministry in our nation and should be in any nation, and in that respect the representation of our cultural manifestation has to be the most significant job available to us,” he said.
As T&T observes its 50th anniversary of Independence, Douglas questioned Pan Trinbago’s vision for the steelpan over the next five decades. Using his knowledge as an African drummer, the minister recalled that during his infancy in this facet of the arts, his knowledge was based on the lesson handed down. Growing up, he eventually learnt the differences in the drums made from goat skin and deer skin, the textures and sounds, as well as the types of wood used to manufacture the rhythmic instrument in varying sizes.
He was convinced, however, that his understanding of the African drum was elevated when he attended an international conference on the science of drumology and its therapeutic uses. “I am sure that in T&T we have this type of research going on...How can the steelband be used for various kinds of impact upon our society and upon our culture?” Douglas said.
“So we continue our commitment to establish a viable steelband industry, complete with factories using local expertise and knowledge. This is important. I continue to talk about research and development because this is so crucial. “I went to Grenada right after Hurricane Ivan. That is the spice isle. I was working on the redevelopment of the country. The hurricane had blown down about 85 per cent of the nutmeg trees. They were thinking about replanting the nutmeg trees and realised we had a big problem, because nutmeg trees come in male and female and nobody had ever done research as to how to know the difference. So for a long time, we couldn’t start planting. What if we had planted all male trees or all female trees?
“So a lot of things are natural to us. T&T is a natural pool with the most musicians playing instruments, but research and development takes us to another level, where we can separate ourselves from the rest of the world as the owners and makers with the understanding.
“We are committed to establishing a viable industry with chroming and power coating facilities and facilitate ongoing research upgrading of tuning facilities to support and expand the current cadre of tuners through training and mechanisation.”
Douglas said the People’s Partnership Government wanted to establish co-operatives and businesses and ventures as part of the steelpan industry and key to that was the completion of Pan Trinbago’s national headquarters on state land in Trincity.
Bertie Marshall and Anthony Williams Award—Tuners
Edward “Peas” Alvarado
Neville “Bassa” Muraldo
Sydney Gollop Award—Pioneers
Albert “Bumper” Caesar
Jim “Big Jim” Inniss
Keston “Eddie Boom” Moore
Majorie Padmore Award—Women In Steel
Pan Trinbago Award
Clarry Benn (Tropical Angel Harps)
Peter Ray Blood (T&T Guardian)
Allyson Hennessy (Posthumous)
Channel 4 TV
Nicholas Inniss Award—Sponsors
Caribbean Bottlers T&T Ltd
Clive Bradley Award—Arrangers
Terrence BJ Marcelle
Noel “Mico” Skair
Nathaniel Crichlow Award—Steelbands
Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille
Junior Sammy Skiffle Bunch
George Goddard Award—Friends of the Steelband
Wack Radio 90.1 FM
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