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Feature address by Dr. the Honourable Lincoln Douglas, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism

On the occasion of The Official Launch of the 2013 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch Competition

Thursday December 6, 2012
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain
7.00PM

 

  • Mr. George Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Southex
  • Chutney soca artistes, musicians, performers
  • Specially invited guests
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening and season’s greetings!
It is a pleasure for me to be here with you at the launch of the 2013 Chutney Soca Monarch Competition - a much anticipated fixture on our Trinidad and Tobago Carnival calendar - after just about eighteen years.

I would like to extend warm greetings and thanks to the organizers, particularly Mr. George Singh and his team at Southex. Thank you for your vision in spearheading this spectacular showcase of music and talent which continues to attract massive audiences throughout the Caribbean and beyond.

Only a few months ago in August I had the pleasure of attending the 50th Anniversary of Independence Chutney Soca Monarch and I was extremely impressed; not only with the staging of the production, but also with the excellent quality of the compositions which were offered by the competitors. Special welcome to our Chutney soca artistes, musicians and dancers too!

Clearly, Southex has discovered a successful formula for hosting shows with high entertainment value for the public, through which artistes can gain exposure and reward for their music. As Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, I really want to commend you for using the show as a vehicle for the performing arts in the sphere of chutney soca music.

Your hard work and dedication to the task has definitely helped to popularize the genre throughout the Caribbean, thereby creating more profitable opportunities for chutney artistes on the whole.

Ladies and gentlemen we are well aware that in a few short weeks’ time we will be celebrating Christmas – one of the most wonderful times of the year, as the song asserts. But while that is taking place we know all too well that a number of Carnival stakeholders will be busy at work putting myriad arrangements in place for the hosting of yet another edition of what truly has the potential to be one of the world’s greatest shows – Trinbago Carnival, 2013.

Some of you might be aware that this Saturday, the National Carnival Commission, through the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism will be launching Regional Carnival in Brazil Village. Next week we propose to host a major media launch of Carnival 2013 as well.
Notwithstanding the potential hype, high energy and impact of these activities, the media launch, in particular, is being hosted to create awareness among the members of the public regarding our plans for Carnival next year.

A new chairman and board of commissioners of the NCC have recently been appointed, and from all indications they are intent on maintaining close links with the Ministry to ensure that the carnival machinery operates like a well-oiled engine!

The NCC’s mandate is clear: it is, among other things, to make Carnival a viable national, cultural and commercial enterprise, and to provide the necessary managerial and organizational infrastructure for the efficient presentation and marketing of the cultural products of Carnival.

While we may not be able to achieve all of our objectives for Carnival 2013, you can rest assured that changes for the better will still be implemented, and we will continue to fine-tune in collaboration with our key stakeholders as we set our sights from early, on 2014 and beyond.

I must admit, ladies and gentlemen, that I am quite pleased with how things have been progressing thus far.

If I had any doubt before, I am now convinced that a number of excellent opportunities reside in exploiting the wealth of our Carnival product. Carnival plays a critical role in the process of diversification within our economy as we shift towards greater emphasis on the creative and cultural industries.

Having recently returned from Carnival in Abuja, Nigeria, which took place from November twenty-four to twenty-seven, I am convinced that the objectives of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for the development of cultural industries must continue and will continue. Numerous benefits and derivatives – from job creation to economic growth and development – exist within this sphere for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

This successful exchange was facilitated through economic and cultural agreements signed between Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria following the visit of Nigeria President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to this country last August.

Abuja, ladies and gentlemen, is one of over fifty carnivals worldwide that is heavily influenced by and structured along the lines of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. And therein lie the myriad possibilities of which I spoke – from training to support services in the art of mas’ making, collaborations in steelpan tuning and construction, music and other cultural arts.  

Cultural exchanges and visits such as the one to Nigeria contribute monumentally to fulfilling the following initiatives set out in Trinidad and Tobago’s plans for sustainable development through:

  • The promotion of local talent and Trinidad and Tobago culture.
  • The development of culture through the exchange and/or exportation of our traditional heritage.
  • The creation of avenues for employment outside of the Carnival season.
  • The encouragement of tourism, as well as foreign relations and economic growth for Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me state categorically that the creative and cultural industries are poised to make its contribution to change and transformation within our economy as a critical growth pole.

The Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism will be leading this charge in collaboration with the Ministries of Tourism, Trade, Industry and Investment, National Diversity and Social Integration, Community Development, Foreign Affairs and others. For indeed as I have articulated on more than one occasion: "culture is like water, it is the greater part of who we are, it is our

life and our survival. Indeed our development is dependent on our ability to manage it and find ways to recreate ourselves in the world."

So ladies and gentlemen as I close this evening, I wish to leave you with the assurance that great things are in store for us as a people and as a nation as we collaborate on fully exploiting our cultural products from across the many sectors of film, fashion, the performing arts, music, dance, multimedia among other areas.

As I mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs such as Mr. George Singh and others of his calibre who understand the intrinsic value of our culture, ultimately succeed in harnessing its many possibilities for the greater good of our society.

I anticipate that we, at the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, will continue to enjoy a cordial and productive relationship with Southex Promotions and other like organizations as we reach for sustainable development of our people and products.

Continued success in the staging and production of the Chutney Soca Monarch Competition and we look forward to celebrating all the winners in 2013.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.