Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony said though this year’s Mashramani celebrations provided income, employment and entertainment for the populace, the ministry would welcome more tangible contributions from businesses for next year’s programme.
In his review of the events this year, Anthony said that the ministries, regional committees and a section of the private sector worked hard to ensure that there were flag-raising and other cultural activities in every region for the national celebration. He also commended the “hidden partners” whom he said were integral to the smooth running of the float parade. Anthony recognised the fire department for checking utility poles and wires along the route and the police for ensuring that the route was safe and the celebrations were incident-free, a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release said.
About 80,000 spectators attended this year’s fete, the release said. Forty schools participated in the children’s float parade and 32 bands marched through the streets on February 23. The celebrations also provided employment for many persons such as singers and owners of music sets, hotels and guest houses and persons in the transportation sector. Smaller entrepreneurs such as beverage and food vendors also did brisk business and competed well against established restaurants.
However, Anthony slammed established hotels, guest and eating houses and taxi services for not offering any special Mash packages even though they would have made many gains during the period. He said he hoped that they “would operate differently next year” and further, he suggested that airlines could also offer special promotions to encourage tourists and overseas-based Guyanese to travel home for Mash.
Anthony also said that he was disappointed that some businesses had criticised how the celebration was organised, instead of contributing to the event. “Mash is not put together by just the Government alone, but is a collaborative effort and more of the private sector should get on board, and budget for it in the future,” he said.
New Mash route
At the same time, he said that ministry is considering reviewing the Mash route. While the “current route is traditional and persons enjoy it” Anthony said that in the light of the massive turnout this year a balance must be struck between ensuring the smooth flow of floats and how close spectators can get to them. He said the Mashramani Review Committee will be examining this issue. A suggestion has already been made to start the parade from the University of Guyana road, along the seawall road into Carifesta Avenue and then into the National Park.
Song and music competitions
This year’s Chutney Competition was noteworthy as the top three finishers participated in the Trinidad Soca/Chutney Monarch competition in Trinidad and all three placed in the top ten. “The finals fielded 18 contestants and the Guyanese trio came away with the 6th, 7th and 10th positions,” GINA said.
Since then, the culture ministry and the organisers of the Monarch competition have formalised an agreement where Guyana’s top three Chutney winners will contest the Monarch competition annually. Plans are in train to make similar arrangements for Soca artistes.
“This arrangement opens up a wider horizon for Guyanese singers who will now have the chance to perform in Trinidad and perhaps in other countries as well, and gain regional exposure,” the minister said. Anthony noted that local artistes can now start to prepare earlier in order to capitalise on the efforts to promote them regionally.
Meanwhile, the inaugural Choral Competition was a success and the champion is expected to perform at this year’s Independence Anniversary celebrations.
The Steel Pan Competition also saw a great turnout this year. The event is fast outgrowing the National Sports Hall and a larger venue will be sought for next year’s contest. The minister also committed to finding a steel pan tuner from Trinidad to conduct workshops on pan tuning in Guyana. The steel pan contest was sponsored by Republic Bank.
According to Anthony, the move to create a legacy has always been problematic and this year was no different. Nevertheless, the ministry will keep trying to record all artistes in the singing and choral competitions and produce an annual CD.