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Mas bands boycott launch

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Carnival 2010 has just begun, and already controversy has surfaced, with the refusal of Mas Bands to make an appearance at last Saturday’s launch of Vincy Mas.{{more}}

Hugh Raguette, Chairman of the CBA, said that the decision by the bands not to appear at the launch was made in solidarity with Beautex International Mas band, which had been denied permission to take part in the launch.

Ashford Wood, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Carnival Development Corporation, explained that because of cost and time constraints, an early decision had been made to have only eight Mas Bands make an appearance at the launch last Saturday, May 8.

The fees agreed by the CDC for Mas Bands making an appearance at the launch are $800 for sections and $400 for individuals.

The CEO said, however, that at subsequent meetings held with the Carnival Bands Association (CBA), a request was put forward by the CBA for an additional band to make an appearance, which would then have brought the number to nine. This request was agreed, Wood said.

According to Wood, a last minute request for the appearance of a tenth band was denied as the CDC was looking to cut costs.

That tenth band, which was denied permission to appear, was Beautex International. In protest of the CDC’s decision, the CBA decided that none of the bands would take part in last weekend’s launch.

“The Mas Bands felt as if all should participate under the same terms and conditions,” Raguette told SEARCHLIGHT.

“The idea was not to cause confusion,” he added.

“We felt as if we were being placed in an untenable position.”

However, Raguette said that the band leader of Beautex had no qualms about not getting an appearance fee.

This position of the CBA was put to the CDC in writing in a letter dated May 5.

The letter stated that “the CBA’s position as decided by the thirteen established Costume Bands is that if one cannot be paid appearance fees, then none should.”

He further said that his organization was not accusing the CDC of holding malice against any one Mas Band.

Mas Bands scheduled to put up exhibition booths at Heritage Square last Saturday also boycotted that event in support of the decision.

Melbourne Artisans was the only Mas Band to cross the stage at last week’s show.

The boycott by the bands sparked rumours suggesting that the CDC’s decision not to allow ten Mas Bands to appear was because of an unresolved issue between Carnival’s governing body and Beautex International, the tenth mas band which had expressed an interest in making an appearance at last Saturday’s launch.

Wood refuted this claim and explained that the decision was based simply on cost and time

factors.

According to Wood, the rumours stemmed from what took place last year when funding was allocated to Beautex International to take part in Vincy Mas, but they did not make a presentation.

Beautex International had been granted funding of $3,000.

“The issue with Beautex International came up, but this has nothing to do with Pearl (Williams),” Wood told SEARCHLIGHT.

“That is a separate issue,” he said.

Band leader of Beautex International Pearl Williams refused to comment on the matter when contacted by SEARCHLIGHT. (DD)

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