Vincy Mas 2018 is now history. A very successful festival we’d say from most accounts, but objectively, how does one measure success? More importantly, how can we ensure the festival’s continued success and growth?
Barring final figures from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) and the Inland Revenue Department, it appears that visitor arrivals and spending for Carnival were up, as not only did Vincentians in the Diaspora come home in large numbers, visitors from neighbouring Caribbean islands were well represented at the events over the final weekend and in the bands on parade on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
Despite the apparent success of the festival based on anecdotes of patron satisfaction, attendance at private events and some of the CDC shows, there were a few areas where performance was below par, which we must correct if the festival is to grow.
Two of the more noticeable areas in need urgent attention were the inconsistent sound quality at some events and the long delays between performances at some of the shows. Two of the CDC shows — EVO 4.1 and the Ragga and Soca Monarch competition, suffered from these maladies, which cannot be allowed to continue into another year.
EVO 4.1, which was introduced last year for the 40th Anniversary of Vincy Mas in June / July would have been a very good show had it not been for the excruciatingly long delays when changing over from one music band to the other. At the beginning of the show, the band Touch had to start its performance three times, owing to problems with the sound engineering.
These problems and delays continued throughout the show and it was past 3 a.m. when stars like Problem Child, Fireman Hooper and Skinny Fabulous were able to take the stage. Attendees at the Soca Monarch show, which was otherwise an excellent production that people will speak about for years to come, had to wait until past 6 a.m. to witness the crowning of Fireman Hooper and Fimba Jardine.
Informed observers say many of these problems would not have occurred had we the services of more/better trained sound engineers; and stage and production managers, who apparently are in short supply. We cannot continue to torture patrons with the long delays in between good performances; next time they may just decide to stay away. Perhaps the National Lotteries Authority may wish to invest in scholarships for advanced training for Carnival makers in some of the technical areas of the festival.
Another area of concern is the dwindling level of sponsorship available to the components, particularly the mas bands and steel orchestras. Evidence of the reduced sponsorship could be seen in the costumes of some mas bands, particularly the king and queen of the bands, whose quality seems to be deteriorating.
The steel orchestras too complained about having to make do with much less. Many of the companies which were in the past relied upon for large sponsorship cheques are either using sponsorship money differently (for sponsorship of private events or for their own Carnival activities) or are themselves no longer in a position to be as generous as they once were.
We must congratulate the CDC under the chairmanship of Ricky Adams for another year of excellent work. We sense that the CDC is listening to the recommendations of the public and is trying to see if and how these suggestions could be incorporated into the festival.
The continued development of Vincy Mas has to be scientific, it has to be planned. This way, we ensure that we plan for a festival that is truly the hottest Carnival in the region and second to none.
We can do it, we are well on the way.