Minister to appeal to State Insurance to reconsider ‘pullout’ of Panorama sponsorship

From left, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association Patrick Johnson, Minister of the Creative Industries Daryll Matthew, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sports and Creative Industries Sharon Stevens were all smiles as they conclude signing of Carnival 2024 contract yesterday. (Photo by Robert A Emmanuel)
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By Robert Andre Emmanuel

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Amidst all the smiles and relieved faces as the government and the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association Pan Association (ABPA)   officially signed the contract for Panorama 2024, a revelation by the Creative Industries Minister highlighted how the weekend impasse brought significant financial consequences.

Mere hours before the signing ceremony of the Panorama contract, State Insurance Corporation (SIC), a longtime sponsor of Panorama, had informed the Festivals Commission that they were no longer sponsoring the event, citing the frequent confusion and last-minute haggling over the 2024 Panorama.

Creative Industries Minister Daryll Matthew made a public appeal to SIC to reconsider the move, hoping that the three-year agreement between the ABPA and the government will bring some sense of certainty to the pan stage.

He added that he planned to engage the SIC’s management team, exhorting them to reconsider their withdrawal notice.

“We are hopeful knowing that with a multi-year agreement in place, all of that is now behind us, and we can now proceed to really market Panorama, market pan, and Antigua and Barbuda as an event of excellence where our children can demonstrate and display their talent,” Minister Matthew said.

The late-night breakthrough in talks between the Minister and the ABPA President Patrick “Stone” Johnson saw one of Antigua and Barbuda’s most cherished Carnival events back on the schedule for this year.

It came following a meeting with the ABPA and its members on Sunday.

“The feeling was that we have to do this thing together, going forward with a new vision, understanding where we are at, and what we want to achieve as a group collectively.

“In any group, you’re going to have heated discussions and at the same time, you are going to have wonderful discussions,” Johnson claimed.

The “heated” and “wonderful” conversation spurred the ABPA President to reach out to the Minister and his team, urging them to return to the bargaining table, which the Minister said that despite seeking alternative solutions—including reaching out to the individual bands to involve them in other Carnival events—that the door was never fully closed to the Pan Association.

“Some of the discussions may not have gone as some of us wanted, but nevertheless, I believe that on both sides of the discussion, we had the best interest of pan at heart,” Minister Matthew expressed.

The deal calls for a $1 million subvention over three years set in place, with the Pan Association agreeing to the government’s $330,000 payment package for this year.

That $330,000 will be disbursed in three parts: 50 percent within seven days of the signing of the agreement, 25 percent will be distributed one week before Carnival, and the last 25 percent before the end of August.

Additionally, the ABPA will also receive a number of tickets to sell and they will keep the revenue.

The Festivals Minister explained that the ticket agreements gives steelbands an opportunity to raise funds, and he encouraged them to do so.

“There are two sides to this equation; I can understand the pan bands are doing as much as they can; what we’re simply trying to do — and we hope still gets done with the allocation of tickets — is that pan bands view it as an opportunity for additional fundraising of what is expected to be a peak time of the year.

“This is where the community, corporate Antigua and Barbuda comes in. If a child who is playing in a band turns up at home with two tickets and says ‘mommy, daddy, I have two tickets to go to Panorama…I would believe that more often than not, the parents would buy those two tickets and maybe give a ticket to an auntie or cousin,” Matthew said.

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