Samantha Rochard

My creative process.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Tax on Carnival Costumes!


Winston Gypsy Peters made an announcement recently that had the Bikini and Beads School of Mas in a panic. "A Tax on your Costumes!" he declared.

Actually, the tax is imposed on pieces of costumes that are imported for Carnival. You see, many more band leaders are opting to go the way of importing pieces of the Costume from China. Remember those wonderful copper breastplates in the 60's? Well, no longer would the artisans of Trinidad and Tobago be given that work, as the bands are now importing the cheap plastic ones from China. Based on some skills we were taught at the UWI course for Carnival Arts, the process can be done here.....but the cost seems to make it prohibitive to use local talent.

Band leaders need to look further into this "Tax." Sustainable development, and indigenous culture means that all the tools, labour, and expertise come from a local source. Imagine, tourists are buying Trinidad and Tobago Souvenirs that are "Made In China"....what's the point??? Then it is not local. What's so special about Trinidad Mas if it is Made in China. The Band leaders, if they are not careful, will take away the unique selling proposition that is Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

One good point about Gypsy's Magical  Tax, is that it would encourage more creativity among band leaders. In trying to solve the creative problem of being...well creative; and cost effective at the same time, band leaders will have to look beyond the "Bikini and Beads" template.
Creative direction will now be sidelined from China, back to Trinidad and Tobago. Dying art forms like wire bending, and paper mache, may be reincarnated; as the puzzle of "creative costing" is wrestled with.
We may see different schools of the art form emerging. We already have the Minshall  school, where Mas Leader Brian MacFarlane has his creative roots. Brain has taken the Minshall craft, and tweaked and twisted and made it his own.
His presentation are well thought out and designed, and "almost" totally local.
An interesting player to watch; out for the first time will be SKULLDUGGERY. Their costumes move away from the B and B and more towards "ole-time mas". I am eager to see their presentation for 2011.
Regardless of the fears..."oh the cost will go up"; which I think are just ignorant comments made without fully exploring the challenges- I believe that the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism are heading in the right direction. For the largest money making industry in Carnival, Mas making has had little "trickle down" effect over the last ten years due to the importation of 95% of the raw materials and costumes.
For all these years of Carnival and Mas Making, you would think that Trinidad and Tobago should be Costume supplier to the world....which has not been the case at all.
Perhaps that would happen. The mas makers should see this as a good thing, and refine their craft, redefine the art, and then seek other markets outside of this country to supply them to. Then all the crafters of Carnival would be employed in "making mas!"

Its a step in the right creative direction.

1 comment:

Mas Assassin said...

I agree with you Samantha Minister Peters is on the right road, give carnival back to the masses, this is the only way the art form can not only be maintained and restored but move forward.