Financing rural mas
June 11, 2004

Financing rural mas

The Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) this year provided the Marriaqua Development Organization (MARIDO), the organizers of Marriaqua Carnival 2004, with EC$8000.
But according to Barbara Bacchus, the three-day event needs about EC$15,000 to run the way it should.{{more}}
Bacchus is President of MARIDO, the organisers of P’Tani Mas 2004. In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Bacchus said that from the EC$8000 given to them by the CDC, EC$7200 was given to the six young ladies who were taking part in the Miss Marriaqua 2004 pageant.
“If we had given them any less than EC$1200 each, it would have affected the quality of the show,” said Bacchus, who noted that, in her opinion, the show was of a very high standard.
Bacchus also noted that EC$360 had to be paid for the erection of the stage. This she said, left MARIDO with EC$440 which had to be used for paying trainers like the Image Modelling Agency, which had the responsibility of teaching the girls to walk properly, Arlene Keane Browne, who schooled the girls on speech, deportment and protocol and Annette Francois, who was the talent co-ordinator.
Security, she said, cost MARIDO an additional EC$2500.
According to Bacchus, all the rural CDCs have the same financial problem with, “some of them having to pull money from their own pockets in order to run the rural Carnivals”.
MARIDO itself was able to contribute about EC$3000 to their carnival celebrations, she assured us.
Another member of a rural CDC, who declined to give a name, also shared the same problems as MARIDO. According to this organiser, the money given is not enough, seeing that, “We are small organisations that can’t make a lot of money from fundraisers and are not really able to get big sponsors except for a few who are willing to help.”
AT&T Wireless is one organization that has made a commitment to the development of rural mas. Other organisations, such as SVG Air, Marcomay and Kentucky Fried Chicken were also named and thanked for having contributed to various rural carnivals.
Chairman of the Carnival Development Corporation, Dennis Ambrose, commenting on the issue, said that the amount of money given to rural CDCs has increased by as much as 75 per cent. He noted that in 2001, rural carnival committees were given as little as EC$2000. He said that they are asking the rural CDCs to trim their programme of activities to suit their budget.
“Their programme does not have to be so extensive like some I have seen,” said Ambrose.
He added that the Carnival Development Corporation also has a limited budget with a fixed subvention from government. “We have a great number of financial responsibilities since we are the one that gives the components start-up money, mobilisation money to all three components.”
The CDC also has the duty of managing and promoting Carnival. They are said to pay out over EC$700,000 in prize money. In 2003 the CDC, according to Ambrose, lost EC$200,000 in gate receipts because of various reasons that included bad weather. He said that they had to go into overdraft to pay prize money.
“While we feel that it is important to sustain the events of the rural activities because it helps with the build-up to the national festival, we feel the rural CDCs need to look at their programme and trim their programme of activities,” said Ambrose. He also revealed that they have been urging some of the rural committees that are located next to each other to merge and hold one event at which time CDC might be able to extend a little more help. According to Ambrose, most of these organisations have been unwilling to come together for Carnival.
Executive Secretary of the CDC Ashford Wood also commented on the funding issue during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT. He supported that the monetary contributions that are made to all the rural CDCs these days are much more than would have been given three years ago.
According to Wood, apart from the EC$8000 that is given to the rural CDCs, the stage is given free with the only costs incurred by the rural committees being the erection fee. The lights, the tents and the promotions are all paid for by CDC.
“For anyone to say that the money they get from CDC is not enough is, in my opinion, a situation where they are asking the CDC to carry the entire costs which we cannot do.”
Wood added that gate receipts gathered from the rural CDCs can also help in offsetting some of the rural organisations’ costs.
A number of rural CDC heads have entertained the idea of sitting down to discuss the issue with the CDC.