This country’s traditional mas will die because of a lack of corporate sponsorship said chairman of the St James Social and Cultural Committee Anthony Alleng as he called for the corporate sector to get more involved.
Speaking to Newsday on Wednesday night at the committee’s traditional mas competition at the St James Amphitheatre, Alleng said, this year, the committee struggled to get sponsorship, especially businesses in the St James area.
“There was no help from the corporate sector this year. All this can contribute to the fall of the art form. We are in need of more sponsors, especially from the corporate sector.
“Not enough is being done for traditional mas or for Carnival generally. If we get more sponsors we can increase the prizes and encourage young folks to get involved. If this is not done the art form will die. TT take it for granted that the country is known to be the home of Carnival.”
Although the competition started late, it was fully supported by both spectators and participants.
The portrayals of characters such as the pierrot grenade, blue devils, moko jumbie, midnight robber, fancy sailor, bat, black Indian, burrokeet, baby dolls, dame Lorraines, jab jabs and gorillas were all appreciated by the audience.
One of the crowd’s favorite was a group called “Just Clowning Around,” made up of students from Mucurapo Boys’ RC School.
Alleng said there had been an increase in young people were entering the competition. He said the committee introduced children to the event to bring awareness of traditional mas to the younger generation.
“Six years ago the committee allowed children to partake in the event because a lot of the older traditional people had died. This year is the committee’s 20th anniversary and between last year and this year, five of my traditional people died.
“While traditional mas is a very difficult thing to improve and it is the same characters every year, we encourage participants to be very creative in their presentations.”
Alleng said participants’ presentations could be political or historic.
“For example the baby doll, they now bring a black or white child, four or five children, in part of their presentations, that is one way they can improve the character.
“The traditional story of baby doll is all about a young woman with one child looking for the baby’s father.”
Alleng said it was also recognised that more had to be done to keep traditional mas alive especially with the younger generation.
“With traditional mas we are trying to encourage more students in the primary and secondary schools to get involved. They are the ones who have the biggest traditional parade on Carnival Friday with over 150 bands.
“We need to educate the public more about our tradition, not only during the Carnival season but throughout the year. The same way they fought to get pan in schools, which has graduated to a point where the majority of players in Panorama are young people, we want to do the same thing with traditional mas.”
He said all stakeholders must do better and work harder to keep TT’s culture because it is tradition.
Alleng said while he has a great passion for TT Carnival, it had become “conventional.”
“There is no mas any more. There is no creativity in mas any more, none at all. Outside of masman Peter Minshall and K2K, there is no creativity. Mas is now characterised as a bra and bikini with feathers and beads.
“The costumes are still beautiful to look at but, something must be done to bring back creativity in the art form, otherwise there will be nothing to look at in the future.”
Alleng said he would continue to fight to keep traditional mas alive.