Brian MacFarlane became the four-time winner of the George Bailey Large Band of the Year title for his 2010 presentation, Resurrection-the Mas. Led by Gerard Weekes, who paraded MacFarlane’s King, ’The Dragon Can Dance,’ the stunningly costumed band outdid previous MacFarlane winning efforts. You can watch parts of the band here:
MacFarlane was pleased with the victory and described the feeling as ’wonderful’, though he is vowing never to compete again, complaining that bad planning had made the band parade unbearable. MacFarlane said Carnival has become too corporate and too focused on making money and not about the historical significance of the mas. “Sometimes I feel like giving up. Like I am fighting a losing battle when I see where mas has gotten to,” he said.
Though hesitant to offend the authorities, MacFarlane said he spoke with Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs Marlene McDonald and pleaded his case about the state of Carnival, but to no avail. He said he was out-voted at the last meeting of stakeholders when he proposed changing the Queen’s Park Savannah judging point.
’I’m not going down that route again. I will speak to the other bandleaders and corporate sponsors to get their support to get this right,’ he said, adding that the money incentive did help to offset the cost of production, since MacFarlane’s was not a money-making band.
’Thankfully, I have a design studio that help buffer the cost of presenting the mas. Anyone can look at our costumes and know we don’t make a set of money,’ he said.
’But someone has to make a stand,’ he said. ’Carnival is dying and there are people trying to kill it. Why must everything be in a cage and for financial gain? Yes, it came from the street, but we should evolve from there,’ he said.
The still-energetic mas man even took a jab at Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), the corporate sponsor behind today’s Beyonce I Am… concert at the Savannah. ’I was going to walk with a can of spray paint and leave a message on that billboard, telling them to respect our culture first,’ he laughed.
’That same money could have been spent on promoting our local culture,’ he said.
To see more of the costumes and read about the ideas behind this year’s mas, go to MacFarlane’s website at http://www.macfarlanecarnival.net/