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The CDC and the regulation of private events

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An interesting debate is taking place in the press, on radio, social media and where ever Carnival lovers gather about the role of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), especially in relation to private events held during Vincy Mas.

The discussion centres around whether the CDC, which has official responsibility for planning and implementing the summer festival, should in any way regulate the private events that take place on the periphery of the official events, but increasingly appear to be generating greater profits and interest, especially among the younger demographic, than the Victoria Park based shows.{{more}}

This is not the first time that there has been friction between the CDC and private promoters, correction, a particular private promoter, but this year, the vitriol went up a notch.

On the one hand, the CDC says it has to shoulder the brunt of the work associated with setting the stage and the climate for Vincy Mas, while the private promoters get to “piggy-back” on the “people-volume” created by the efforts of the CDC. While they do admit that the private events add value to Vincy Mas, chair of the CDC Dennis Ambrose says the CDC will not let such events smother the national events by simply giving way to such organizers. Ambrose has even gone as far as to accuse one promoter of making absolutely no investment in the national festival that is set to benefit the country’s economy.

We can’t say that we agree with Ambrose, for while a promoter’s investment in the festival may not come in a form most valued by the CDC, such as a sponsorship cheque, we daresay the form of investment the promoters do make is as valuable to the festival and trickles further down in the economy.

By our last count, there were over 40 private events related to Vincy Mas in 2016. Consider how many beverages and special outfits were purchased, how many caterers, hairdressers, dress designers, event venues and event rental companies saw their capacities stressed to the limit. This business of which we speak is new business which was generated by these events, not business which otherwise would have gone to the CDC.

These events, therefore, should not be seen as competition to the CDC events, but complementary, as in many cases, those who patronize the private events, particularly our overseas visitors, have little or no interest in attending events at the Victoria Park. Many of them had high praises for the private events they attended, pledging to return next year to continue the party. To each his own. Their concept of Vincy Mas may not be that of someone else or what the CDC may wish it to be.

Similarly, there is still a market for the CDC events among the traditionalists who will continue to patronize the events at the Victoria Park, and these patrons are not necessarily from the older generation. We now, for example, have a young and growing population of fans of the steel pan – just look at the decent numbers that turned out to Junior Panorama and Steel and Glitter. These shows, as well as Fantastic Friday and Miss Carival had decent crowds, despite competing private events. The challenge for the CDC is to continue to try to find appealing ways to package the shows that form the core of the festival.

Choice is good; competition makes us all better. The CDC has been doing a fairly good job at creating the enabling environment for our festival. They should continue to do that, while allowing the private promoters to continue their innovation. The regulation of these private events will come from the very market in which they operate; it should not come from the CDC.

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