Private shows overshadowing CDC events?
Editorial
July 14, 2023
Private shows overshadowing CDC events?

Vincymas 2023 is now a mere memory, and from all appearances the festival seems to have gone satisfactorily, although there will be the usual post-festival arguments about what could have been done differently or better.

A popular sentiment that has come out of the staging of Vincymas 2023 is that private parties are becoming increasingly popular, overshadowing events hosted by the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC). Most of these parties were sold out events, while shows of the CDC, usually held at the Victoria Park, were not very well patronised.

Even shows like Fantastic Friday (calypso semi finals) and the Soca Monarch, which traditionally drew large crowds have been falling off in attendance.

Most of the discussion centres around what it would take to make the CDC shows the financial success the private events appear to be, and could the private events succeed without the CDC creating the enabling environment.

But can a comparison be fairly made between the private events and the shows organised by the CDC? The former are mostly all inclusive parties with all that entails, while the latter are competitions, with the attendees making up a largely passive audience.

Private parties also have a flexibility the CDC shows do not. They have flexibility in terms of venue selection, entertainment choices, and thematic elements which attracts individuals seeking novel and immersive carnival experiences.

The private parties also benefit from strategic marketing and networking. Influential personalities or brands often endorse these private gatherings, amplifying their reach and desirability. The resulting buzz and social media presence enhance their reputation and appeal.

In the age of social media, the party goers between the ages of 20 and 50 will tell anyone who cares to listen that they are all about “experiences” and unlike their parents, are not prepared to be spectators in the game of life.

Attending a show where all they would be required to do is sit, look, listen and clap, goes against their very philosophy of life. Of all the shows produced by the CDC, the Soca Monarch is the most popular because that it is a fete of sorts in which attendees get fully involved in the performances of their favourite artistes.

The same young people who refuse to fill the stands for the traditional shows are however participating in record numbers at Mardi Gras, spending thousands of dollars on feathered and beaded costumes to cross the stage at an empty Victoria Park.

The CDC shows are often perceived as lacking innovation, creativity, and the immersive experiences offered by private parties. Consequently, potential attendees opt for more enticing alternatives.

The participatory element is missing.

Moreover, CDC shows have been burdened by limited resources and funding.

What therefore can be done to make the competitive shows more participatory and enjoyable for the audiences?

Innovation and fresh approaches to event planning should be encouraged. Organisers could take a page from the book of the hosts of the private parties and consider introducing thematic, interactive elements and immersive experiences that might just captivate attendees.

Could the audiences be allowed to use their mobile phones to have a say in who is determined the ultimate winner of a competition? Such a scheme may bring more supporters of the various competitors to the Park if possession of a ticket number is a requirement in order to vote.

The CDC could also explore the possibility of leveraging the success of private parties by collaborating with event organizers, sponsors, and influencers. By forging strategic partnerships, CDC shows could benefit from enhanced marketing, increased funding, and access to a broader network of potential attendees.

The private parties and the shows of the CDC are both essential components of Vincymas. It benefits neither to play one off against the other. Rather, through collaboration and partnerships, some of the shine of the private shows could rub off on the CDC shows, increasing the appeal of the competitive shows.