Head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache says its time for carnival mas bands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to embrace information communications technology and move into “the next century”.
He told the launch of Vincy Mas 2016 on Saturday at Victoria Park that mas producers have done a great job over the years, but it is not just about bikinis, but also about creativity.
“And I want to tell them to do the best they can as they already have, but to promote it as much as possible. We need to get into the next century. There should be no mas band in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that does not have a website. There should be no mas band in St. Vincent that cannot promote their mas and have you pay for it by credit card. This is the world we live in now, and if we don’t keep up with it, then we are gonna be left behind,” he said.
Beache, who was speaking on behalf of Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie, said it is the people rather than the government and the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) that make Vincy Mas great.
“The musicians, the stakeholders, the mas men, the calypsonians, you are the ones that make Vincy Mas great,” the former tourism minister said.
He said he is impressed by what he has seen so far for the festival, adding that the music is the best he has heard in a while.
Beache said that many persons see carnival as tourism oriented, but said there is a reason why it falls under the Ministry of Culture — because it is the cultural event.
“CDC has done a tremendous job over the years in promoting this. And, a matter of fact, when you look at Carnival and how it has developed over the years, one cannot help but be very proud of where Vincy Mas has come from. In 2001 when the ULP (Unity Labour Party) came to office, Carnival was on the decline,” said Beache, a former ULP politician said.
“We put in resources to make it bigger and better ‘til it is now the hottest carnival in the Caribbean,” said Beache who was wearing a “Labour Love” wristband from the December election campaign as he spoke on Saturday.
Beache said that stakeholders have to continue to promote the festival, adding that promotion is not only what comes from the Tourism Authority.
“It’s what comes from you, your friends, your family, the diaspora, in telling them to come home and getting visitors to come home and see what Vincy Mas is truly about.”
Beache called for stakeholders to guard against losing the cultural elements of Vincy Mas.
“Because I will say this. We have become a nation of radio talk show programmes. Everybody can call in, they can say what they want to, they can criticise — and there is nothing wrong with criticism because no matter how good something is, there is always room for improvement.
“But when we look at Vincy Mas and what it is, it can’t only be about private parties and all-inclusive parties.
“The festival, the cultural aspects of Vincy Mas, has to hold true — the pan, the mas, the calypsonians. Because I will say this, if you look at CDC as only a promotional company, then there will be only two shows that CDC will have. That would be Miss SVG and Soca Monarch, because those are the only two shows that make a profit.”
He said Vincy Mas is “still the second largest carnival in the Caribbean, adding that if the country were larger, Vincy Mas would be the carnival in the region.
Saturday’s event included appearances by sections from a number of mas bands, and the first official public appearance by the eight contestants in the Miss SVG 2016 pageant.