Mr. Keith Diaz, President of Pan Trinbago
Mr. Bryon Serette, Vice-President of Pan Trinbago
Mr. Richard Forteau, Secretary of Pan Trinbago
Other Executive Members of Pan Trinbago
Colonel Edison Isaac, Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband Music Festival
Distinguished and Dedicated Members of the Steelband Fraternity
Specially Invited Guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a pleasure to address you here this morning at the formal opening of Pan is Beautiful twelve during Steelband month! I am sure I would have no challenge in convincing this audience that the steelpan is indeed an amazing instrument with no comparison.
At the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism we continue to embrace our mandate to ensure that this beautiful instrument is enjoyed by all and given the recognition and respect it deserves. The Ministry is focused on partnering with Pan Trinbago to empower the steelpan fraternity through skills enhancement, the regularization of ownership of land and the establishment of a permanent home for Pan Trinbago.
(Music Schools in the Community)
In June of this year the Ministry launched the 2nd Semester of the Music School in the Community Programme. The overarching aim of the programme is the enhancement of the knowledge base of young musicians. The steelpan is the main instrument used in the programme and panyards across the country are the training centres of choice.
For twelve intensive weeks young pannists were exposed to new skills and techniques necessary for advancement within the music field. Even more than this, these upcoming artistic professionals also benefited from the mentorship of some of our experienced musical icons such as Pelham Goddard, Leston Paul and Roy Cape who were the artists in residence.
At the Ministry we take an umbrella approach to our projects, hence the inclusion in the programme of subjects such as Artist Management techniques, Life Skills education, Music Composition and Music Literacy in the programme.
When we improve the level of music literacy, we increase the potential for all our musicians to grow and make a tangible impact anywhere.
On the whole, the Ministry’s Music School in the Community programme is structured to give participants the tools to maximize their potential in the growing steelband industry and arm them for the ever competitive global music arena.
Yet the Ministry recognizes that while much emphasis is placed on artistic talent, too little is spent to train the managers who keep our artists at work. It was for this reason that the training initiative Building Successful National Cultural and Artistic Organisations was implemented.
The Ministry partnered with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center in the United States of America. Key members of our major national arts and cultural organisations gained invaluable training in building capacity and managerial approaches that was specifically crafted and targeted to arts organisations.
Pan Trinbago, as one of the key organisations that keep our cultural traditions alive, was invited to send representatives to this programme. I am happy to know that Pan Trinbago responded positively to this invitation with three attendees. Reports coming from the participants were very positive and assure us that we are on the right track in the Ministry. Undoubtedly the Vice President of Pan Trinbago, Mr. Serette, can attest to the benefits of the training programme. We in the Ministry look forward to even more progressive initiatives coming out of the sector as a result of this training.
(REGULARISATION OF LAND OWNERSHIP)
(Panyard Regularisation Project)
Music skills and management training, while key to the development of the steelpan sector, are not only segments of the steelpan ecosystem that require attention.
The panyard, this space of creative expression, the birthplace of the country’s most renowned innovation, has traditionally been the centre of our communities. It is both the formal training ground and the place where informal socialisation takes. In the pan yards the benefit of discipline, teamwork, practice and hard work is learnt. Elders groom young members of the community who have then emerged as the next generation of Band leaders.
In recognition of the advantages that society receives from the the mere existence of the panyard, the Ministry is in the initial stages of actioning The Panyard Regularisation Project. This project aims to facilitate the formalisation of the ownership of lands currently occupied by steelpan bands and steelpan tuners.
The project is centred on the more than two hundred and twenty (220) Pan Trinbago member bands as well as the steelpan tuners that form the Pan Tuners guild. Tuners are an indispensible segment of the steelpan fraternity and also a core stakeholder in the steelpan ecosystem. The process for the tuning of steelpans necessitates the identification of a dedicated work space that can accommodate the sinking, heating, grooving and tuning of the steelpan.
While focus will primarily be placed on the regularisation of state lands, subsequently private lands occupied by steelpan bands and pan tuners will be regularised as well.
Apart from the fact that this initiative will give historically underserved groups wealth with which to bargain with conventional financial institutions, there is also the opportunity for the streamlining of steelband management. Parallel to the transition of this resource into the hands of the steelbands, management training will take place and monitoring mechanisms will be instituted. All of this will help the steelband industry to progress.
There are also positive psychological side effects to this initiative that are as powerful as the tangible benefits. Steelbands will now be injected with a sense of and security knowing that they have legal right to the land they occupy. And so the creative work can flourish in a well-managed and sustainable environment.
(ESTABLISHMENT OF A PERMANENT HOME FOR THE PAN TRINBAGO)
Creating wider sustainability for the sector that contributes so much to Trinidad and Tobago both socially and economically is the reasoning behind the renewed focus on the establishment of the Headquarters for Pan Trinbago.
Despite the fact that expenditure has already been incurred, we at the Ministry, in discussion with Pan Trinbago, have taken a step back to re-evaluate the entire project to ensure that project advances properly. This beautiful instrument of ours deserves no less.
This Ministry is working in partnership with Pan Trinbago to develop the headquarters that will be built and outfitted in a manner that will make not only suitable for the direct needs of Pan Trinbago, but also make it a source revenue, creating additional resources for the use of the steelpan fraternity and of course increased self-sufficiency.
There is currently a largely untapped market for the export of the national instrument, and there are also numerous opportunities for pan players, tuners, innovators, arrangers and manufacturers. Established steelbands can now be found in almost every continent on the globe from Australia to South Africa to Denmark to Canada.
There is much work to be done and we are working with Pan Trinbago to develop the resources needed to supply the international demand.
All of these initiatives are being instituted by the Ministry because for us there is no doubt that the steelpan is one of the most viable resources for Trinidad and Tobago. According to research done my Dr Keith Nurse, in 2008 the value of steelpan exports from Trinidad and Tobago was estimated at TT$4 million and this continues to climb annually. There is immense potential for the steelpan industry to advance the lives of stakeholders involved in the sector while promoting Trinidad and Tobago as a brand to the global market.
This is all a part of the government’s diversification policy that emphasizes the expansion of alternative productive sectors in the economy through the continued development of existing sectors and the establishment of new areas that span the creative, technological and manufacturing sectors.
To effect this diversification I assure you that we will continue to partner with Pan Trinbago towards the empowerment of the sector through schemes that impart skills and management techniques to the steelpan practitioners and support of the development of a central base of operations from where the steelpan sector can grow and prosper. The Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism is wholly committed to harnessing and ultimately realizing the full potential of the Steel Pan.
I thank you and may God bless our nation.