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New group aims to topple NCBA

Monday, February 18, 2013
Former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliams looks stunning in this Edmond Harts costume in the presentation Je t’aime Carnival at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Carnival Tuesday. PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH

The newly formed T&T Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) is preparing to challenge the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) to become the main voice for Carnival bands.  



Its interim president and this year’s joint Carnival King Gerard Weekes, said the association was formed in September by concerned members of the NCBA. The group, Weekes said, has more than 77 bands which includes J’Ouvert bands as well as steelbands including Exodus and Silver Stars and Curtis Eustace (with whom Weekes shared this year’s crown).


Weekes said Carnival had experienced many challenges and many masqueraders have been disrespected over the years. The concerned group, which includes Rosalind Gabriel (well-known children’s bandleader) and Trini Revellers’ David Cameron, attempted to gain control of the NCBA in its elections in June 2012. Weekes said the group lost the election by 30 votes and so decided to form its own association. 


Asked how the TTCBA would navigate in a space that already has two bodies seeking to represent masqueraders—the NCBA and the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF)—Weekes said the group collaborated with the NCDF, but the TTCBA had the majority of bands, which made it eligible to be the main voice. 


“The organisation with the majority of bands controls Carnival in Port-of-Spain,” he said. He criticised the NCBA for its treatment of masqueraders, citing the 30-minute limit given to large bands to cross the Queen’s Park Savannah stage. He also criticised the NCBA for its handling of traditional mas, saying under the NCBA’s leadership traditional mas had suffered even though the NCBA has been hosting a Nostalgia Parade. 


He said the TTCBA held its own competition downtown under the auspices of mayor Louis Lee Sing and awarded the winners $10,000. The group intends to challenge the NCBA from as early as this week and plans to hold internal elections by next month to firmly establish an executive. At the moment, Weekes said, the group is looking to set up an office. 


Weekes added that the TTCBA held discussions with National Carnival Commission chairman Allison Demas. Veteran masman Brian MacFarlane had no lead role in the group, said Weekes, but was a member. 


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