by Donella Hosten
On the evening of Saturday, 12 August 2017, Panorama was postponed. 8 steel bands came out to the National Stadium with the intention of vying for the coveted title of 2017 Panorama champs, only to be informed, after hours of delay, that there would be no competition, no Panorama.
This is the first time in Grenada’s Panorama history that such a snafu has occurred. On Wednesday, 16 August, Minister with responsibility for Culture, Senator Brenda Hood, accepted full responsibility for the postponement. “As minister responsible for culture, I take full responsibility for the activity that did not occur.”
According to Senator Hood, exhaustive efforts were made by the Spicemas Committee (SMC) to find a contractor to build an appropriate stage for Panorama 2017. The minister stated that her decision on the night to postpone Panorama, was based on safety concerns of the partially built stage.
A decision was also made to host Panorama 2017 a week later, on Saturday, 19 August. However, the Grenada Steel Band Association (GSA) opted against this stating that ‘pan belongs in Carnival and it must be held within that period.’ This means that the next Panorama will be in August 2018.
In a press conference on Wednesday, 16 August, Acting President of the GSA, David ‘Peck’ Edwards and other members of the association, expressed their utmost disappointment with the manner in which Pan was being treated.
“Pan is dear to all of us,” said Peck, as he promised to take a firm stand to ensure that the art form gets the respect it deserves.
Brian Sylvester, Public Relations Officer of GSA, said he was appalled at what took place last Saturday. In light of this, the GSA is calling for the resignation of the entire Board of SMC, including CEO Kirk Seetahal.
The GSA is also requesting that each band be paid the 1st prize of $48,000 — as full compensation — as it is impossible to know who would have won. To this request, Senator Hood stated that they would receive an answer by Friday, 18 August.
The GSA firmly believes that the SMC is responsible for providing the necessary facilities to host the national shows, and their failure to do so, resulted in there being no Panorama 2017. The fundamental position of the GSA is that SMC has the responsibility to ensure that national events are properly planned and executed.
It was confirmed that Chinese contractors were recruited by the SMC to build the stage for Panorama 2017, as Judah’s stage was not able to facilitate the weight of the pans and chassis. “We were informed initially that a stage should have been built outside of the realm of Judah Promotions for Carnival. Then they were informed at the 99th hour that plans fell through for the construction of that stage, and Judah was asked to provide a stage at the 99th hour,” Peck commented.
According to Genevieve Gibbs, Chairman of the SMC, the GSA secured the services of contractor Danny D, who was paid in full by the SMC to build the stage.
Stephen Greenidge of the GSA indicated that the contractor informed the SMC that he did not have enough material to complete the stage. The contractor was then assured that he could use material from the Junior Panorama stage. However, something again went wrong and work on the stage did not begin until Saturday afternoon.
When asked whether or not the contractor would have to refund the SMC, Gibbs stated that further investigations and meetings will have to be held.
The GSA is in no way blaming Judah for the postponement of Panorama 2017, however, they believe that the SMC could have done more. It was a snafu for Pan, and an embarrassment for the country. The association is also calling for the cancellation of other non-national shows on the nights when national Carnival activities are being held.
The situation caught the attention of Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, who expressed his utter disappointment. According to him, someone will be held responsible and some heads will roll. An investigative team has been put in place to determine if any one person or group is responsible for the occurrence.
A Memorandum of Understanding will also be signed to ensure that each of the parties involved understand their roles and what is expected of them.
In the pipeline, the SMC is looking into the possibility of owning its own stage and staging equipment for future Carnivals.