To start, I am asking for the government to cancel this year’s carnival celebration. I will not subscribe to the view that “if you want carnival get a vaccine!” a view that both the Grenadian and Vincentian Prime Ministers are advocating.
We are not ready as a nation to receive thousands of visitors from around the world. Carnival will only be successful if we can allow thousands of visitors to enter our nation. In spite of what we are seeing in places like USA, Canada and Europe, we are not ready for unconditional, unrestricted travel even with the so-called “Vaccine Passport”.
I think we should use this opportunity to reimagine carnival. Wow, Wow, Wow, calm down, I am not proposing messing with your ten days of feting and lewd behavior or your 3 for $10 Hairoun beers and unlimited Strong Rum. I am thinking we should add another component, something else for the thousands of visitors to do during their 10-15 days celebration/ vacation.
For the hundreds of Vincentians who do not participate directly in carnival, but are involved in Arts and Craft for a livelihood, we should provide a structured event for them to sell and exhibit their materials. For the farmers we should provide a venue for them to showcase their produce and agro byproducts. For the innovators in the country we should encourage them to develop prototypes for exhibition. We should encourage the carnival bands to produce limited editions prints of the various section of the bands, kings, queens and individuals drawings for sale. These lovely unique renderings are an income opportunity for the mas bands to make some additional income from the festival.
These are just a few random thoughts of how we can rethink the ‘Greatest Summer Event in the Caribbean’ and bring it back better than we can currently imagine. Let your imagination go wild for a moment – an expanded event for everyone, you get my drift? In addition to the traditional carnival events, let’s add a cultural exhibition to involve other productive sectors of our community and promote small and developing sectors of our economy.
With all these visitors looking for something to do while they wait for the main events, we might get someone interested in investing in something uniquely Vincentian.
At worst we provide something for the thousands of visitors to do during the day and some entrepreneurs get to sell some locally produced items. At best, we may see some startup businesses to help expand the economy, reduce the trade deficit and provide employment opportunities.
To maximize the possibilities, we must start to plan now, and we need the support of the Ministry of Culture and all other Government agencies. After all we are still a nation that relies on the government to initiate big ideas. Alas, it doesn’t have to be so; maybe one of our civic organizations can do it. Some of us are old enough to remember when “The Jaycees” used to be the primary organisers of carnival.
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