Panorama Stage stays with a compromise

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The second threat to boycott this year’s panorama competition really ought not to have been made according to minister of festivals, Daryll Matthew who said the pan association’s demand for monies that were owed for last year had been addressed since Monday.
A statement  threatening to boycott – following a similar threat in June this year although for a different reason – indicated the pan players would not be playing this year because “the lack of payment of outstanding monies has now become a major issue.”
This statement from the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association was sent to OBSERVER media Monday night, but by that time, the group had already been issued two cheques covering the $130,000 that it was demanding.
Last night, minister Matthew explained that a cheque for $50,000 towards the total owed was prepared since last week but paid on Monday and the second cheque for $80, 000 was finalised on Monday and delivered that day as well.
“They had a meeting with the acting Prime Minister last week, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin. And based on the call I received from Mr. Benjamin, they wanted outstanding funds of $130,000 paid. We have been making incremental payments to them for the past few months and they wanted the balance,” Matthew said.
He explained that Benjamin indicated to the pan association that the monies would have been paid “by Friday gone” and when they went to the Treasury, they learned that the payment of the cheques were delayed due to “some issues” at the Treasury.
However, by Monday the cheque for $50,000 was delivered early and the second one for $80,000 required the signature of the accountant general who was in a meeting at the time when the association enquired about its readiness. It was paid later that day.
According to Matthew, the president of the pan association, Patrick Johnson, was kept up to date on the status of the payment, thus, when it was reported to the media that night that the pan association would boycott over the money issue, it was a surprise.
Meanwhile, the issue of the stage which caused the first threat of a boycott in June, has also been addressed.
“The alternative that was accepted and agreed upon by all parties, pending a site visit, was one where a low platform would be erected to the front of the existing stage, large enough to accommodate all of the bands and the performances for panorama will take place from that platform,” Matthew said.
The pan association wanted the canopy of the existing stage at Carnival City (Antigua Recreation Grounds) to be peeled back, but was told earlier this was not feasible.
The festivals minister said the association was given alternative solutions, to include the same one to which they eventually agreed yesterday.
The association met with the Prime Minister and the festivals minister yesterday following Monday’s announcement of a boycott of this year’s competition.

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