– forces cancellation after 23 years
The Trinidad Government through the Finance Ministry has pulled funding for the 23rd annual International Chutney Soca Monarch that was billed for the Queens Park Oval on January 27.
On January 3, a mere one day before the launch of the 23rd anniversary of the Chutney Soca Monarch, the offices of Southex contacted the National Lotteries Control Board with regard to the payment of their sponsorship package and requested an urgently convened meeting to discuss same.
“Whilst there I was greeted by the CEO and was informed that there was a change, a change to which he was awaiting a final decision on. Within a few minutes a phone call was received by the CEO and taken outside of the said meeting. A few minutes later, the CEO re-entered the room to which he stated that there was an email confirmation and directive by the Ministry of Finance that stated that the Chutney Soca Monarch was no longer to be the recipient of any funding whatsoever,” George Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Southex told a media briefing.
Singh is unsure as to the reason and motives behind this sudden pull out from Chutney Soca Monarch by the Government but claimed it will be a very peculiar state of affairs if there were other cultural events receiving sponsorship this carnival with the exception of one.
However, one of the reasons to pull the plug on the competition could be a song that banned from entering the competition sung by Neermal “Massive” Gosein titled “Rowley Mudda Count” which the government thought was disrespectful to Prime Minister Rowley’s mother.
In addition the PNM’s women’s wing denounced the composition but the artiste is holding out that in the past calypsonians were allowed to get away with double entendre-laden submissions directed at women and women politicians without criticisms.
Nevertheless, Southex has dedicated 23 years to the growth and shape of an industry. An industry that now sees thousands of people employed and expressing their culture at its finest through song, dance, choreography, production, stage design and much more.
“We are saddened by this turn of events and find the timing rather suspicious given recent events. Therefore please be advised that the 2018 Chutney Soca Monarch is hereby formally cancelled due to low Government and State support and our inability to fund the venture privately as a result of its sheer size and expense,” Southex in a release stated.
The Trinidad Government for the past three years has consistently reduced funding to Chutney Soca Monarch and various members of the present Administration have stated directly to us that ‘Chutney Soca’ brings no value to Carnival.
The International Chutney Soca Monarch drew participants for several Caribbean countries including Guyana, and Suriname. Artistes from Canada and the United States also participated in the event.
The Chutney Soca Monarch apart from being an event, has enabled artistes to raise their own standards and travel year round garnering an income that was not previously available without this platform to have their music showcased.
The pinnacle of success with the Chutney Soca Monarch came around 2010 when the then Government invested heavily in the cultural aspects of Trinidad and Tobago enabling, the show to achieve levels of production that rivalled that of any international production of the like kind.
It also saw a huge financial incentive given to artistes thereby enabling them to create more elaborate and creative performances. During that period, the Chutney Soca Monarch was able to make an even larger footprint on the global market with viewership reaching an all-time high of 100,000+ viewers from 50 different countries tuning in live for the final event which was broadcasted over the Internet.