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May 27, 2014
No mas costumes for Miss SVG 2014

For the first time in decades, the contestants in the Miss SVG 2014 pageant will not wear costumes made by local mas bands, when they make their introductory appearance this Saturday.

This decision was communicated on May 15, 2014 to chair of the Carnival Bands Association (CBA) Hugh Ragguette, {{more}}in a letter from chair of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) Dennis Ambrose.

“…the services of the Mas Bands are not required for the Miss SVG Show….In the meantime, The SHOW WILL GO ON,” the letter from Ambrose said.

The CDC chair, in the letter, said this decision was taken following a position presented by Ragguette at a meeting of the CDC that “action will be taken if outstanding monies are not paid to the mas judges by May 31, 2014,” for judging done in 2013.

In his letter, Ambrose described the comment as an ultimatum and stated that the timing was unfortunate, especially since May 31 was the date of Miss SVG, when the mas bands are commissioned to make costumes for the delegates’ introductory appearance.

“Your perspective is unbalanced and disruptive and seeks to undermine the cohesiveness of the Components of the CDC. Furthermore, such veiled threats to the CDC will not be tolerated – in place of ‘making things work for the national good of our beloved National Cultural Festival’. Please recall that it is only in recent times that fees have been offered to judges – as historically, this had been a voluntary service,” Ambrose’s letter stated.

Furthermore, Ambrose stated that the CDC will not be held to “ransom, threat nor embarrassment by any of its components.”

Additionally, the CDC chair noted that the mas judges will be paid when the CDC is in a position to do so.

In a letter written to Ambrose in response, Ragguette declared that the CBA was not in the business of issuing ultimatums.

The CBA chair also said that the statement quoting him as saying “action will be taken if outstanding monies are not paid” is “pure fiction.”

Ragguette outlined that during the CDC meeting, an update of the CDC finances was requested by the CBA representative.

“Among monies due was a $75,000 installment from the National Lotteries Authority (NLA). When mobilization funds for Pan, Calypso and Rural Carnival were added, there was more than enough remaining from the NLA allotment, part of which could have been used to meet the mas judges payout. It was at this point that the CBA representative made the quite reasonable request for that payout to be made by May 31, 2014,” Ragguette’s letter stated.

He said the fact that the Pageant coincides with the end of the month is mere coincidence.

“Indeed, the CBA Rep. never mentioned anything concerning Miss SVG 2014. Nor was mention made of the launch,” Raguette’s letter said.

The CBA chair also opined in his letter that the CDC was in breach of contract.

“Yes, May 31 is the date of Miss SVG 2014. It is also the end of the penultimate month before the month which kick starts the official carnival celebrations. Based on precedent, the CBA will never set a deadline to ‘take action’ on the said deadline,” Ragguette’s letter said.

“By unilaterally taking the decision that the ‘services of the mas bands are not required for the Miss SVG show’, the CDC is in BREACH of CONTRACT. Costumes provided for all eight delegates entered in the Miss SVG 2014 pageant are virtually complete or finished and remain available for their introductory appearances. There is absolutely no connection between Miss SVG 2014 Pageant and nonpayment of Mas judges stipends.”

Also in his letter, Ragguette declared that the mas judges have always been on the lowest rung of the totem pole as it relates to getting paid by the CDC.

He also noted that since 2010, when stipends for the judges were introduced, payment has never been on time.

“In 2010, judges were paid just before independence in October of that year. In 2011, they received payment in December. For the year 2012, paid in early 2013. For the year 2013, these remain unpaid up to the time of wiritng,” the letter stated.

“We would be grateful if your reiteration “that the mas judges will be paid when the CDC is in a position to make such payments be communicated to them either verbally or in writing since pleas for such an approach have apparently fallen on deaf ears over the years”.

In a release issued yesterday, the CBA said that no one on the CDC board seems to have taken into account that eight mas bands have “already spent money on and dedicated man-hours to costumes the CDC requested and the contestants themselves selected.”

The release also said that despite attempts by the CBA to “bridge the chasm that has opened between itself and the CDC, [they] have been told that the CDC’s decision in relation to Miss SVG 2014 and the wearing of carnival costumes for the introductory appearance is final,” and that the CDC has “implemented plan B”.

The CBA, in the release however, wished the contestants in the Miss SVG 2014 every success in the show on May 31, and reassured the nation that the thirteen costume bands will actively participate in the 2014 Carnival celebrations.(BK)