Concerns mount over execution of this year’s Carnival

Head of Ali and Associates Mas’ Troupe, Alister Thomas (File photo)
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By Makeida Antonio

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The head of a local mas’ band has aired concerns over the way this year’s Carnival festivities will be executed by the government.

A number of key events, including the steel band contest Panorama, have been axed from the usual line-up and a new route for the parades was announced by Cabinet two weeks ago.

Another key player, Dave Lester Payne who runs the Golden Eye Calypso tent, also revealed recently that the longstanding pre-Carnival event would be unable to be executed this year due to circumstances beyond his control.

CEO of Ali and Associates Mas’ Troupe Alister Thomas, who is also the United Progressive Party candidate for St John’s City West, shared his view that a different administration would have ensured that locally produced mas’ costumes be included in the celebrations.

“I’m quite certain that there would have been some individual costume competition and presentation so that the creative arts and creative genius of the Antiguan mas’ designers and producers would have been on display and the public always looks forward to the presentation of Antiguan artistes,” Thomas said in an interview yesterday.

For over 20 years, Thomas has been producing authentic mas’ costumes for events like Children’s Carnival and told Observer he, along with other Carnival contributors, are still owed thousands of dollars from previous years.

“We can humbly say we have the best record in not only ensuring that our children get costumes, our sponsorships, we spend sometimes in the region of $100,000 getting our children on the road,” he said.

“Our input sometimes is near $50,000 annually but they are owing us at this point in time. We have to take them to court for refusing to pay us over the last three to four years somewhere in the region of $70,000.

“All the artistes need to do is recognise that they are being disrespected and that they have shown more interest in the artform and Carnival, and I know the artistes can demonstrate their love for the artform with or without a government that is uncaring,” Thomas asserted.

Meanwhile, he revealed that, in two weeks, Ali and Associates Mas’ Troupe will present its 2022 Carnival plans to the public.

“We are planning a public costume treat as something we want to gift them. We are working on the concept and we are going to make an announcement to the mas’-loving public and the global community. In another two weeks we can confirm the finalised presentation,” he added.

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