This week the Culture Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Marlene McDonald, officially opened the Mas Academy which they expect “will secure Trinidad and Tobago’s place as the home of Carnival.” McDonald, at the opening ceremony at the academy’s headquarters on Cornelio Street, Woodbrook, said the idea of establishing an academy has long been the main point brought up during debates and discussions on ways and means of improving Carnival. “What is different now is that out of the collective ideas and experiences, viable structure has emerged to be an educational and training platform for taking mas to a higher level of development,” she said.
In the past, McDonald said, change and development in mas came through experimentation, trial and error and creativity. However within recent times, she said, some traditional methods and techniques of mas production has been replaced because of newer trends. “The Mas Academy is therefore a timely intervention in the struggle to identify and preserve the positive elements of the carnival art form and to prepare and equip our mas producers, craftspersons and associated artistes with the knowledge and skills to adapt to new demands, new technology and new modes of operation,” she said. The minister added that while Trinidad’s Carnival is at the forefront of similar festivities across the world, displaying the innovation and creativity of the population, other countries are catching up and presenting a serious challenge to Trinidad’s position. To this end, she said, government has been working to ensure Carnival is taken to the next level with the construction of two performing arts academies and by working with stakeholders to improve the management and execution of the festival.
Through the establishment of the academy, she said, NCBA has taken the lead among Carnival interest groups in the development of the festival. “I want to applaud your organization for including in the aims and objectives of the academy issues related to the development of junior carnival, research and publication, training for carnival band leaders and judges, job creation and revenue earning, continued dialogue and forging partnerships, and the enhancement of Trinidad style carnival throughout the world,” she said.
Vice President of the National Carnival Band Association(NCBA), David Lopez said that the academy has long been a vision of the fraternity and will be a means of protecting indigenous people, local culture and mas. He said the establishment of the academy will go a long way in developing the industry.
Originally reported by Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday at http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,104365.html