The Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission will commence review of the 2017 Carnival festivities when it holds a series of meetings with Sub-Committee Chairpersons and stakeholders from this weekend.
Chairman of the Commission, Maurice Merchant said that the review is necessary in order to look at ways to improve the overall festival. He said that on immediate reflection, the Commission will look at Junior Carnival to include Jr. Calypso and Jr. Party Monarch which has grown tremendously over the years.
“Jr. Mas has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two carnivals with participation from schools moving from twelve schools to over thirty schools and groups participating to include pre-schools. The Jr. Calypso and Jr. Party Monarch have also seen increased participation and the time has come for us to evaluate if Jr. Carnival should be celebrated over two days with Jr. Mas on one day and the Calypso and Soca Monarch competitions on another,” Merchant said.
Merchant indicated that the Sub-Committee heads will report to the Commission on their stewardship over the past few months and make suggestions on improving on the various activities of Carnival.
“We rely heavily on the Sub-Committees to carry out the mandates of the Commission and we thank them for their hard work and dedication to the festival. Many of the Sub-Committee chairs and their members would have been serving for many years and they have a wealth of knowledge and are committed to the task of ensuring that the festival grows.”
Merchant said that over the coming months, the Commission under his chairmanship will conclude preparations for the Independence celebrations, V.C. Bird Day and National Heroes Day.
“In June, we devised a schedule of activities for those events and will be submitting it to the Hon. Minister of Festivals, E.P. Chet Greene for his approval. We will also open registration on Monday 14th August for the Independence Calypso Competition and for the selection of the 2017 Independence theme. We want the upcoming celebrations to focus heavily on national pride and the building of Antigua and Barbuda as an economic powerhouse within the region,” He said.
Reflecting on Carnival 2017, Merchant said that it was a very challenging season, however overall he believes that Carnival 2017 was a resounding success with increased participation and public support.
“From all indications, Carnival 2017 was enjoyed by a large majority of persons who supported the events. I believe however, that the focus for 2018 must be on how we can improve on the public support for calypso and more training for persons involved in all areas of Carnival. I must commend the participants for their excellent showing and congratulate the winners on capturing the various titles. Our benefactors also played significant roles in the success of the festival and we look forward to their continued participation in 2018,” Merchant said.
The Chairman of the Festivals Commission said that with the involvement of the Honourable Minister of Culture and Festivals E.P. Chet Greene, who has been very supportive of the work of the Commission and the Ministry of Finance, they will devise a payment schedule for winners and service providers to ensure that they meet their obligations soonest.
Carnival 2017 was held under the theme Celebrate Greatness. Carnival 2018 will be held from July 27 to August 7.