by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The opening of Sugar Mas 51 is fast approaching, and the St. Kitts – Nevis National Carnival Committee hosted its first Media briefing on October 06 to inform the general public on what to expect for this year’s National Carnival celebrated under the theme “Celebrate as one Sugar Mas 51.”
Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Cooperatives; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Sports and the Creative Economy, the Hon. Samal Duggins said the line-up for Sugar Mas 51 is closer to the National Carnival he had dreamt about before becoming a Minister of Government.
“Looking at the lineup for Sugar Mas, it is a very all-inclusive, all-of-society approach. It’s not just about our local bands and local troupes, but it’s also about the folklore and the cultural elements. It’s also about our vendors and the economic activity spurred on from carnival, as it should be. But it’s also about our local promoters, our local creatives all across the board and for me, that is the essence of carnival.”
The Minister responsible for Carnival thanked all involved in making Sugar Mas 51 happen, from the Director of the Creative Economy in the Government, Roberitine Webbe of St. Kitts and Nevis and the St. Kitts Nevis Carnival Committee.
The Director of the Creative Economy gave a snapshot of some of the Sugar Mas 51 events to be undertaken by the Ministry of Creative Economy – Culture, emphasising traditional folklore.
In the Spirit of Christmas will be back in the Cirus, and Webbe shared a new event coming to National Carnival.
“Another event that is an inaugural event is the Midnight Escape which is a street festival. It’s a downtown street festival… and then we have the National Folk Galore, which is a combination of the Mascarade bowl and Mixed Folk competitions and the Folklore Avenue. So the Department of Culture, which falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Creative Economy, is continuously working to document and preserve our culture through ICH – Intangible Cultural Heritage. So our emphasis is placed on folklore; preserving the traditional folklore.”
Chairperson of the National Carnival Committee, Shannon Hawley, shared that she was excited to welcome back some marquee events that were on a hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic including the St. Kitts-Nevis Talented Teen featuring nine schools, Children’s Carnival Parade and Junior Calypso.
The Grand Parade is also back this year with 11 troupes.
“Of course, this is the highlight of National Carnival, is back featuring 11 troupes, and our J’ouvert is also back featuring 14 J’ouvert troupes which is a record… so this is going to be a very large carnival, the biggest ever.”
The National Carnival Committee has also provided subventions to assist with upfront costs, design fees and more to the Grand Parade troupes and will provide subventions to other stakeholders involved in Carnival. The subventions total EC$500,000 to various stakeholders in Carnival.
Hawley explained that Carnival stakeholders got a late start to the preparation due to delays and are being affected by supply chain and logistical issues.
“Grand Parade troupes usually start their planning and production six-eight months prior to the actual National Carnival. Because of the late start, because of logistics [and] supply chain issues, all of the Grad Parade troupes were having difficulties in sourcing, securing [materials], etc., so National Carnival, along with the Ministry, provided a subvention to the Grand Parade troupes and we will also be providing subventions to the Talented Teen, the Calypso – Soca artistes, steel bands as well as absorbing all of the costs for the tractors, drivers and trailers for all of the J’ouvert Troupes and all of the Grand Parade Troupes, all 25 of them, which in essence is over $500,000 in subventions that we are providing this year to our carnival stakeholders understanding the mammoth task and the short space of time required to produce this National Carnival.”
For every Carnival, there are conversations about the trickle-down effect of the Carnival festivities especially reaching the local vendors who are currently unable to sell on the streets of Central Basseterre. Hawley indicated that the Secretariat is looking at ways to have local street vendors benefit from the National Carnival.
“We also have over 100 street vendors registered, and we know street vending is not allowed at this time in Basseterre. However, we are working very closely along with the Planning Department, the Ministry of Sustainable Development to ensure that our vendors are back on the streets for carnival because there is no Sugar Mas without our vendors. So we are asking our vendors who have registered to please give us some time; we are working through the logistics in terms of the placement of vendors downtown to ensure everything is done within a specific structure. So we will be having vendors for National Carnival this year,” said Hawley.
The Carnival Chair also announced that the winning Road March prize was increased to EC$20,000 with the caveat that Road March tracks be released by November 18 to ensure that people know the tracks for Road March.
Over 50 Calypsonians have registered for the Calypso shows, 30 Soca Monarch artists and over 30 private events on the National Carnival Calendar.
The Chair shared that the goal of the National Carnival on its path to self-sustainability is to market the product in such a way as to keep the St. Kitts Nevis National Carnival on the Calendars of regional and international travellers.
“Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that beds are filled just like how every other Carnival in the region is promoted. We want to ensure that our beds are filled. We have carnival lovers from around the region and internationally coming in, and the trickle-down effect is felt. The intention is to do an assessment to really understand how carnival impacts the overall society and the overall trickle-down, so that is what we plan to do. For many years [have not understood] the importance. It’s not just us going on the street [full of revelry], but it is the actual tourism product, and I am so happy that the Minister understand, with the Minister of Tourism, that this is where National Carnival is supposed to be, and this is where we’re moving towards.”
Sugar Mas 51 runs from November 25, 2022 – January 03, 2023.