Judging and Vincy Mas
There will rarely be an instance when our people will all be in agreement on the judging of the different shows which make up Vincy Mas.
We just have to accept this.
We understand this on a certain level, but year after year, we get ourselves bent out of shape over the judging of one show or the other; usually the Miss SVG pageant and the various calypso and soca shows.
The decision of our judges is always final, but acceptance of the judges’ opinion is made particularly difficult because of the smallness of our country. Everyone knows everyone else and the biases they are perceived to have; and the pool from which we can draw qualified, experienced and competent judges, who have no recent affiliation to any of the competing entities is particularly small.
But the evolution of the components of Vincy Mas is inextricably linked to the task we ask of our judges: render a judgement on the quality of the performance which they have witnessed.
The judges therefore stand as the custodians of art forms that produce intense passion among all parties invested in the outcome of their judgements. We cannot expect unanimity in an area where subjectivity is inescapable.
So, for example, the arithmetic of music awards points for melody, originality, rendition, and presentation. But loving a song stands outside of arithmetic. And when these two things do not converge, some people would be dissatisfied.
And although in 1976 the Mighty Chalkdust sang ‘You Can’t Judge Culture’, for the continued development and evolution of the art forms, there must be competition.
This being so, judging of all competitions of Vincy Mas must be as transparent and as objective as humanly possible. Three aspects of judging must be made public in every instance. Firstly, what are the criteria used for selecting judges? Then, what are the specific judging criteria and thirdly, how are these criteria be applied (would /should the judges be allowed to confer? Would high/low scores be excluded?). Even with transparency, we will continue to have controversy, but in the face of hard facts including judging criteria, it will be more difficult for those who cry foul to make a cogent argument.
But let the tension and debate continue. It is this very tension that sustains the evolution and development of our artistes and the components. While we’re at it though, let’s try to maintain some level of civility.