A virtual staging of Trinidad Carnival should not be viewed as a replacement for the annual festival, says promoter Randy Glasgow.
CEO of events powerhouse Randy Glasgow Productions, Glasgow says as the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic has all but forced the staging of a virtual showcase in lieu of a live action festival, the fundamental differences between the two should be clear to all stakeholders.
“For many of our citizens, visitors and Carnival lovers who may want some clarity and understanding, a virtual Carnival 2021 is not a substitute for Carnival 2021,” Glasgow told the Kitcharee via WhatsApp chat on Thursday afternoon.
A virtual production, however, could prove valuable in marketing the creative products of this country for future staging of the festival. It could also help position T&T as a premiere destination laden with tangible creative exports, Glasgow said.
“Let’s use virtual Carnival 2021 as a spectacular marketing concept to further promote the splendour and magnificence of our Carnival product for 2022 and beyond and equally as important, our twin island state destination along with our fantastic slew of exportable products and services,” he said.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, all but declared the annual festival cancelled during a press briefing last month.
Rowley said, while Trinidad and Tobago remains “in the throes of a pandemic” he saw “no future for Carnival in T&T in the months ahead”. Carnival 2021 was scheduled to take place on February 15 and 16 next year.
“If at this time in October, we are still in the throes of a pandemic, it would be madness to be talking about Carnival in February. I see no future for Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago in the months ahead,” Rowley said then.
The PM also said while he understands the economic ramifications of the postponement and potential cancellation of Carnival he remains more interested in saving lives. To date there have been 5,446 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in T&T. 103 of those have resulted in death.
“I can put everybody on notice that unless there is some dramatic wind that will blow across us where, by Christmas, the pandemic would have been a thing of the past, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago in 2021 is not on. Let us be thankful that we’re all still alive to see each other’s face. Let us remember what our country passed through in 1918,” Rowley said.
We must be exceptional
Glasgow says he fully accepts the PM’s assessment. In light of the current situation and having seen what other territories have done in the virtual realm, anything T&T puts out for Carnival 2021 must be exceptional, he said.
Notting Hill Carnival in London, England and Labour Day Carnival in New York, United States both presented quality virtual showcases of their carnival in August and September, respectively.
“Trinidad and Tobago is the mecca of Carnival, also Carnival is our country’s flagship tourism product so there is no room for the ordinary,” he iterated. The veteran event planner affirmed that an all hands on deck approach must to be adopted, and championed the call for all organisations and bodies responsible for key elements of the festival to work together to produce a 15-day showcase of mas, music, pan and other cultural expressions.
“We are suggesting a collaboration with Government ministries and agencies, NCC (National Carnival Commission), Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), Pan Trinbago, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association (TTPA) to produce 15 of Carnival’s most fantastic events with international appeal to be shown over 15 days. Our country’s breathtaking sites or in a bubble where sites and scenes could be recreated,” he said.
Glasgow envisions a small audience being present at each event to help create the right energy for the showcases and called on collaborations with the Ministry of Health to ensure the safety standards of each event.
“At each event you will have a limited audience as an energy backdrop. Audiences, artistes, crews and staffing protocols will be all under the control and supervision of the Ministry of Health,” he said. Glasgow said virtual Carnival may be the only opportunity many entertainment creatives get to earn from their talent and craft in 2021.
“I am very confident the world will tune in every day to enjoy the look and vibe of world class events. Events should be taped and packaged for perfection including video ads by Government. Not forgetting, virtual Carnival 2021 will give some of our creatives, talent, crews, logistical companies and so on the only opportunity to earn a dollar in over an entire year,” he concluded.