Antigua St John's - Newly appointed chairman of the 2012 Carnival Development Committee (CDC) Kayode O’Marde said he has received a firm commitment from all stakeholders for full participation in this year’s Carnival celebrations.
O’Marde also announced that the CDC has managed to cut over $1 M of potential spending from its budget through a series of approach and procedural changes.
“They are all on board. There will be no boycott,” O’Marde said. “We are all on the same page.”
Addressing the media on Friday, the CDC chairman said he has also put together a plan of activities for 2012 that will see the CDC keeping the celebrations within its budget.
“Our main intention is to get back to a good financial place,” O'Marde said, adding that the CDC has made “necessary” cuts that it believes would finally see Carnival placing a slimmer burden on the Ministry of Finance.
Cuts have been made in areas of security, stage, marketing, queen show funding, cleaning, and others. More than 50 percent of the initial marketing budget has been trimmed, and the CDC will be employing a “targetted” local and regional advertising approach for the summer celebrations.
“We have to be creative and keep the costs as low as possible,” said the Committee’s Colin Gordon.
Prize monies have remained the same, and according to O’Marde, talks on Thursday with Finance Minister Harold Lovell assured that all financial matters for the 2012 celebrations would be handled within 90 days of the end of Carnival. It is expected that the $2.5 million Carnival allocation will be sufficient to cover this year’s activities.
So far, the government has managed to settle $600,000 of last year’s debt, having paid calypsonians, soca artistes, and party monarchs. More money is expected from the Treasury next week to cover other outstanding balances.
According to O'Marde, “Representatives from mas, pan, and calypso have met with the CDC and are aware of the proposed changes. I am very confident that the relationships have been repaired."
He noted also that as chairman, he strongly believes he can make a change in not only the CDC's operations and its image, but the image of Antigua’s Carnival, both at home and abroad.
The CDC has also called on the business community to fully support this year’s events, and promised, in return, a better working relationship and value for money.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Queen contestants will be unveiled on May 9, when the CDC also plans to host its Carnival Media Launch at the Grand Royal Antigua Hotel.
The LIAT Melting Pot will be held this year in honour of the legendary King Short Shirt.
Sub-committees have been put in place to manage the events, with oversight from at least one CDC board member.
“I have full confidence in the team. I think I have their full support,” O’Marde said.
He added that after Carnival, the CDC would be looking to help artistes, particularly soca artistes, “spread their wings” at home and abroad to maintain their presence and build on their talents.
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