The executive members of the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association say it was never their intention to boycott the 2018 Antigua Commercial Bank Panorama Competition, despite information contained in a letter to the National Festivals Commission.
Members of the five-member negotiation team have stated that their intention is to play in the best environment possible to ensure that patrons coming to the show enjoy a good performance.
They also pointed out that their request is not for the entire roof to be removed from the stage at the Antigua Recreation Ground, but rather the removal of the canopy and not the metal structure.
Joseph “Jowato” Henry, captain of the Gemonites Steel Orchestra, stated
yesterday that, “We have never said that we would not have a panorama. In fact, negotiations are still ongoing so that we can resolve the situation, so I was really surprised by a statement about a threat.”
Henry, along with other members of the negotiating team, spoke about the issue on Sunday during OBSERVER Radio’s Sessions in Steel programme.
The matter surrounds the condition of the stage to be used on the night of the Panorama Competition.
In a letter dated June 12, head of the pan association, Patrick “Stone” Johnson, noted that members of the association met on June 8 and decided that they would refrain from playing for panorama if the roof and backdrop conditions of the stage did not meet the specifications of the association.
Festivals Minister, Daryll Matthew, responded to the concern explaining that the demands of the association were unrealistic and the commission was not in a position to meet them. He also stated that several alternatives were put forward to the association and they had yet to respond.
Meanwhile, Henry said that the concerns regarding the stage conditions are not new. He said that the issue was raised with former Festivals Minister E.P. Chet Greene over two years ago, and band members participated in the competition in 2017 based on a promise that the matter would be addressed in 2018.
“The service provider was called in our presence last year and he stated that as long as the negotiations were timely things could have happened. Based on that, we were pretty confident that this year we would have played on the stage without the roof,” Henry said.
Captain of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra, Dwayne Mussington, also provided a rationale as to why is it so important that the canopy on the roof of the stage be peeled back.
According to Mussington, the current structure of the roof impacts negatively on the sound coming from the larger bands, namely Hell’s Gate and Halcyon Steel Orchestras, and as such, they decided to have a meeting regarding the matter.
“When we had the old stage without the roof we never had a sound issue. Even when we had recordings, we did not have any issue. For about four years, we have attempted to do Panorama production as a fundraiser and we cannot do it because the sound is just poor,” Mussington said.
The executive members maintained they wanted the best sound, hence the reason they approached the minister about this and other issues.
They are hoping that ongoing negotiations with the Festivals Commission will end on a good note.