Cultural Stakeholders Say Carnival In Crisis

Several people who have spent decades working to perfect their art, especially for Carnival, have said they are disillusioned with what the annual summer festival has become.

In a damning assessment of Antigua’s Carnival, its music, administration, judges, artists, and revelry, cultural stakeholder, Craig Christopher said the festivities are subpar and a far cry from yesteryear.

In a five-page letter to the Chairperson of the National Festivals Commission, Maurice Merchant, and copied to the Minister responsible for Carnival, Paul Chet Greene, Christopher expressed “dismay and concern as our Carnival has slipped from its high perch as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s to a place where our Carnival is now struggling…”

Christopher said his views are borne out of years of participating as a songwriter and producer and being the son of a founding committee member of the first Carnival in 1956.

He wrote: “With regret, I have watched as our music and mas’, respectively, have lost their distinctive sound and impressive splendor…”

Earlier this month, former chairman of the Carnival Committee, Donald Charles told OBSERVER media that Carnival has lost its purpose and is now all about rum. He said the street parades with actual cultural-looking costumes that visitors look forward to in the past have been missing, for the most part.

As for the music, Martin’s views differ somewhat from Christopher’s. He said there is still good music being produced, but it is just not being played by the local DJs.

“There is a lot of good music around, but the DJs are not playing it. They are just not into local music. Everything is foreign,” he said.

Martin said he was invited to play T-Shirt mas’, this year, but his participation lasted all of 10 minutes because the band was playing hip-hop music.

Christopher, speaking as a songwriter and producer, said the local Carnival music leaves a lot to be desired.

Read more in today’s Daily Observer.




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