September 20, 2019

The Editor speaks: One carnival – one spectacle – one organiser

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Colin Wilson

I believe the large majority of us agree the separation of Batabano and and Swanky International (CayMAS) was unnecessary and ill thought.

Government have announced, “Beginning next year the street parades staged by the Cayman Islands’ two non-profits Batabano and CayMAS will take place on the same day in May 2020, instead of a week apart.

“Plans developed by Government call for both adult events to take place on the second weekend in May starting in 2020, and to follow the same route. Batabano will lead off as the longest established of the two. Once at the end of the route, the processions will culminate in separate parties.

“The changes are the product of a working group led by the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, that included representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure and the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport.

“They reflect discussions between Government and stakeholders that have been ongoing since 2018. These aimed to address public concerns following the split in 2016 between Batabano and Swanky International (CayMAS).

“Since the period of separation began Government has received several complaints ranging from perception of the ‘unnecessary’ separation of carnivals in a small island, to West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach vendors and hotels protesting disruptions to business caused by road closures on consecutive weekends.”

I agree completely with all the above.

Yesterday we received a Press Release, published today on iNews Cayman, from the Batabano Committee welcoming the return to one parade on Grand Cayman.

Donna Myrie-Stephen, Batabano Committee Chairperson, reiterated that she has served as the National Carnival of the Cayman Islands since the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman established Batabano in 1983. No one can question her ability and expertise in organising this event that has grown into the largest carnival of its king here in the Cayman Islands.

There were some bumps in the road but that is how we learn.

I therefore have to question why the “responsibility for all public sector financial contributions/grants to carnivals will move from the Ministry and Department of Tourism to the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF)?

Minister for Culture, Hon. Dwayne Seymour, explains that CNCF’s scope of activities includes the distribution of grants to support the development of local talent, including by means of festivals, exhibitions, pageants, parades, etc.

“Working through CNCF, which has technical expertise in the field, the ministry responsible for culture is pleased to take this opportunity to embed the role of carnivals in local culture. The ministry and its statutory authorities will continue to liaise with our tourism-focused colleagues on carnivals and other aspects of cultural tourism”.

What “technical expertise” in the field of organising carnivals has the CNCF?

The CNCF has a budget that it cannot adhere to and every year has to have a subsidy, so why on earth add another burden on its shoulders that is totally unnecessary?

How many carnivals has the CNCF organised? There is absolutely no need for them to be involved at all. All the technical expertise is already there with the present Batabano organisers as has been proven.

PLEASE keep the CNCF out of it.

One carnival, one spectacle and the present Batabano organisation.

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