Lorne Theophilus Hails Carnival

Gives Event A Passing Grade.

Minister Theophilus and his wife, Paula, at this year's j'Ouvert jump-up. [Photo: Stan Bishop]
Minister Theophilus and his wife, Paula, at this year’s j’Ouvert jump-up. [Photo: Stan Bishop]
MINISTER for Tourism, Heritage and the Creative Industries, Lorne Theophilus, has given the just-concluded Carnival season a passing grade despite a number of perennial and fresh challenges.

“I always give Carnival an excellent grade,” Theophilus said at a press conference where Carnival results were announced. “As a true patron and fan of Carnival, I always give it an excellent grade.”

Theophilus, a self-described die-hard Carnival reveller and supporter for many years, said that while he acknowledges there are shortcomings that overshadow the festival, a constant quest to raise the standard needs to become the norm so that the event grows into something more attractive and viable.

“There are things that we must continue to tweak. If we become complacent, I think we can step back very quickly from the advances that we have made. There has been a reduction in the number of incidents that have been associated with Carnival. So, generally, there has been an overall improvement,” the Minister explained.

Theophilus said he was “happy” with the movement towards the general improvement of Carnival – the buy-in from different sectors. He was pleased with the Carnival Planning & Management Agency’s performance in managing this year’s festival.
“What they have done as usual is defy the critics, all of those who had a lot of negative things to say about the CPMA coming in,” Theophilus said. “People can see that there’s a greater structure and the efforts that have gone into the production of carnival. All stakeholders really need to be congratulated, beyond the CPMA.”

The Minister congratulated the police, the private entities, the revellers and organizers who planned new events, saying that “these events create a vibe around Carnival and this is what people come for, over and above just the events that are put on by the CPMA.”

Theophilus said that while he would not make the comparison between Trinidad Carnival and Saint Lucia Carnival, capitalizing on “our own unique product” is paramount so as “to continue to develop what we have so that we can grow the numbers in terms of the visitor arrivals to Saint Lucia”.

Government financing for carnival has over the past few years been a thorn in the festival’s side. Theophilus said the festival did get “as close to the budget” sought this year. In the end, he said, justifying those dollars needs to be the crucial factor. He believes the magic worked this year.

“We believe we had a spectacular year, the numbers were good and the events were very good,” Theophilus said. “But we need to conduct a study so that we can see the economic impact of the festival. That way, we can continue to justify the resources that are invested in it.”

Theophilus singled out young upcoming artistes, saying there is proof that the creative sector is growing and contributing significantly. He lauded the newcomers for competing against some of the more seasoned performers and seasoned producers.

“It means that we’re going in the right direction,” Theophilus said. “Look at the significant improvement this year in the quality of the music generally. I mean, barring the complaints that have been leveled concerning calypso, it’s something that I think we need to address by investing in the younger ones. But there’s been a significant overall improvement in the quality of the music.”

The Festivals Commission is slated to take responsibility for all events shortly, including the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival and Carnival. Theophilus said the formulation of the proper structure for the Festivals Commission to get them prepared to engage in early planning for the festivals for this year and next year will take effect immediately. Nevertheless, he said there needs to be an open discussion on the creative sector — especially Carnival – so that the right mix works every time.

“For it to get better, we have to continue to invest in it and be able to accept the criticism that comes out there, positively,” Theophilus said. “Even in the worst of critics, there is a message that we can glean which can help us move forward.”

Statistics related to visitor arrivals to the island specifically for Carnival, the minister said, should be made available shortly.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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