Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has described cultural ambassador and pannist Rodney Small as an exceptional creative talent.
Small is the creative director of the concert dubbed ‘Steel Expressions’ which is into its ninth year and is in 2020 being held under the theme “Lifted”.
The venue this year has been switched from the Arnos Vale Playing Field to the Victoria Park.
Speaking at the media launch of the event at the Murray Heights Hotel on December 10, Gonsalves said we are witnessing an extraordinary personality in the cultural field, specifically in the playing of steel pan.
“But it is much more than this. He is an important official in the Ministry of Culture charged with seeking to lift the creative industries higher, for us to make not only an impact in cultural terms but to provide livelihoods for person engaged in the cultural field,” Gonsalves said of Small who is president of the Youlou Pan Movement (YPM) and Co-coordinator of Creative and Cultural Industries at the Ministry of Culture.
The Prime Minister said the Steel Expressions concert has as its fulcrum the steel pan, but with other dimensions and when persons are at the event, “certainly when I am at the event, I feel transported to the cultural core of our Caribbean civilization.
“A civilization of uniqueness, of authenticity with deep historical roots and with a trajectory for further ennoblement,” Gonsalves said at the media launch.
He added that the way Small “makes the instrument speak and sing and rejoice and celebrate and tell us things,” you would have to be an insensitive person not to feel transported to something extraordinary.
Gonsalves said that initiatives like Steel Expression must be encouraged, supported and nurtured or the possibility exists that we can lose it.
“We must not forget that between 1997 and 2001, there was no panorama. We must not forget that in 2002 when panorama was revived, it was revived with only three pan sides, Starlift, Sion Hill Euphonium and Rhythymix,” Gonsalves recalled, while noting that only Starlift had its own pans and the state purchased pans for the other two sides.
“And the other pan side, for whatever reasons, the one out of Calliaqua, Potential, preferred to go to Young Island to play,” Gonsalves said while adding that persons should not entertain the idea that we can’t lose parts of our culture that we don’t nurture.
He added that between 2002 and today, the number of pan sides has grown and that revival is part of the education and cultural revolution spearheaded by former Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste.
He said that revival gave rise to Small so it is understandable while as the Prime Minister, he has to support Steel Expressions.
“I want to invite all parliamentarians to come to it before we go to work on the 28th December, because I am calling the parliament on that date,” PM Gonsalves said while adding that he is hoping that the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) and other sponsors support Steel Expressions.
“Lifted” is scheduled for Saturday, December 26, Boxing Day.