Glendon Morris Speaks

Conquistadores by Bobby Amon - 1950s : Copper work by Ken Morris
Conquistadores by Bobby Ammon - 1950s : Copper work by Ken Morris

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The prize money is never satisfactory Reporters
Interview Recorded: April 25, 2005
Posted: May 15, 2005

In two weeks time I have to go to St. Vincent again. Their mas is still what we used to see long ago. I have to go and do a lecture together with a couple other head judges.

During the period when Basdeo Panday was Prime Minister, Brian Kuei Tung and John Humphrey decided that the mas fraternity should run their own affairs. We ran Carnival for all the years when Panday was in office. When PNM was coming in we just said, "Oh, oh, we had a good time." and as they came in they said, "Oh no. No, no, no." and they took it back from us. That was three years ago, and for that Carnival there was no Band of the Year. Alvin Daniel was chairman then, and of course he knew nothing about Adjudication. They made a mess of things. They were taking judges from of the streets and all kinds of things. I do not know how Kenny De Silva feels looking at the board and looking at his first ten years as Chairman of NCC, that there were no results in Carnival. If I was chairman I would have moved immediately, but of course it is that PNMite thing, what can we say.

We sort of held our ground and we are presently doing our show like the Junior Carnival; the Individuals, and the King and Queen of the Band. They insist they maintain the Dimanche Gras, which we and TUCO used to run. They have maintained the Dimanche Gras and Parade of the Bands which is Carnival Monday and Tuesday. We handle the other aspects of things. I am very active with them. I was once Chairman of Adjudication, and when we took over the Carnival I was in charge of Adjudication. We had to kind of pull everything together and do the best we could. The government subvention was coming through and things went very well. Kenny De Silva has started realizing that NCC has too many portfolios as far as functions go. He has taken a back seat and is allowing us to at least give advice. I do not know how long things will be like that, but for now it is working out pretty good.

The prize money is never satisfactory. For instance, look at our band placing first every Carnival. We get prize money from different competition points like Downtown, behind the bridge; we go everyplace because we are the grassroots of Carnival. When all are combined, we will probably get about fifty thousand dollars. Then there are different categories that we will win in like, Sailor, George Bailey, and Harold Saldenah Award which carry money prizes, sometimes up to five or ten thousand dollars. The band of the year prize, which is the George Bailey award, is still within the vicinity of fifteen thousand dollars for a small band. That cannot even pay for music. Most of the bands have to run a little Bar-B-Q or something to try and raise funds because they are really 'scrunting'. I know friends who have small bands like Berlin and Associates; I do not know how he does it. One year he came up in the mas camp here and he said, "Glendon can I share music with you? I have a disappointment with my band." He didn't have the money to pay them and they ran out on him at the last minute. Even though I wanted to help him, the other members were saying that they did not want to start that, so they told him no. I would have done it for the love of the art form. I would not have thought twice to do something like that, but everybody is not like me. It was a committee; a democratic process. We had to keep a sort of emergency meeting Carnival Monday, and we were calling this one and that one, and before the band actually went on the road, the members were told about Berlin's problem. Most of them said no; only two of the members said yes.

My portfolio for Carnival in N.C.B.A. is the chairman of Pre-Carnival Shows, except Junior Carnival. I am Chairman of the whole aspect of the shows like, the Kings and Queens, Individuals, and all the traditional mas competitions. The complaint I hear all the time is, "when are we going to raise the money?" But it is not for us to decide; it is a Ministry of Culture decision. We try and we push, but it is still their decision. What they did last year and this year 2005 was a step toward helping us. They gave us a grant of four thousand dollars before Carnival to help us. This is for only small and medium bands. Bandleaders like Berlin would now be able to have a little cash flow to see about his costumes. That grant came from fifteen hundred to four thousand, so it was a big jump and we really appreciated it. I am not saying the Ministry of Culture is not doing anything, but their assistance is slow.


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