Carnival foundation sets rules for local bands

POSTED: 11/23/15 5:06 PM

The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) and the islands local bands met last week to continue their new drive to foster closer ties. It was the fourth such meeting since the close of Carnival 2015.

The SCDF, in an effort to increase the recognition and participation of local bands in Carnival, has committed to doing its utmost to realize this goal with the cooperation of the bands. The foundation “recognizes that increasing support for the bands will not happen overnight and a mindset change in both Carnival supporters and sponsors and the bands is crucial,” it said in a press statement, adding that it has “identified very simple actions that could be undertaken to meet the aforementioned goals.”

Currently there are two pre-Carnival jump-ups: The Around Town Jump-Up and The Causeway Jump-Up. The foundation understands that it is costly for bands to come out on the road for jump-up and has been partially subsidizing participating bands with contributions of $1,500.

The foundation will increase this contribution to $2,500, with a cap of four bands. “SCDF will determine which bands it will compensate for playing during the jump-ups, while giving different bands the opportunity to play.”

It is unrealistic to expect SCDF to cover all the costs of every band we would like on the road for the pre jump-ups. The bands are also expected to do their part in securing sponsorship for the road. It is vital that troupe leaders and sponsors get the opportunity to see and hear the band when deciding on music for their troupe or commercial endeavor,” Carnival Director Mike Granger said.

Though bands are responsible for booking their own engagements for the parades, the SCDF will facilitate getting the contact information of the bands to the various troupe leaders. The SCDF cannot dictate to troupe leaders that they have to use a band or DJ, so the bands have to negotiate early with troupe leaders who also set their budgets early.

Foreign bands are allowed in the parades under certain conditions. If a troupe leader requires more than one band, one of those bands must be a local band. A troupe leader with just one band will not be allowed to contract a foreign band, unless all willing and prepared local bands have been contracted.

Only local bands will be allowed in Jouvert. The only way the SCDF will act contrary to this policy is if the local bands indicate in writing that they have no issue with the participation of a particular foreign.

To provide additional exposure to the bands and their music, SCDF will host at least two off season events featuring local bands: St. Maarten’s Day and during the Christmas season. Bands will be contracted and promoted for each of these events. Additionally, during Carnival, SCDF will contract local bands to perform during its events. International show promoters will be encouraged to book local bands for opening acts.

The SCDF will host a Band Clash every year which gives the bands even more exposure leading up to Carnival. The clash has been included on the Carnival schedule, slated to be held on April 10 on the TelEm parking lot across of Carnival Village. The Band Clash will form part of the Band of the Year Title. All rules and regulations pertaining to the Band Clash will be outlined to bands no later than December.

The SCDF has identified the lack of effective marketing by the bands as a weakness. Some bands host events in the off-season but do very little to promote them. The foundation will host a marketing workshop for the bands. SCDF has also invested in photo studio equipment to assist the bands with creating professional media kits.

The SCDF is expecting the bands to have at least one song for the next season ready for airplay by November 1. They should deliver the mastered versions of their songs to the radio stations no later than January. Bands should do their utmost to improve their professional image. Professional photo shoots, media kits, proper contact information, updated social media pages and sound cloud accounts with music all contribute to getting gigs and being recognized by sponsors. Bands should host events year round, not simply settle for being a Carnival season bands. “The more people hear about you, the more they want to hire you. These events are forms of marketing yourselves.”

There are a number of issues that the bands will solely be responsible for as we attempt to raise their profile. Band management must understand that the SCDF cannot and should not be expected to do this alone. We will start small, but if we are committed to these steps on an annual basis, we are confident we will see a change in mindset of our people towards our bands. It won’t happen over night or even in two years. But our bands must understand that in the end, no matter how much the SCDF does, it still boils down to them and their product. If the bands fail to pull their weight in this new effort, they will do themselves more harm than good,” Granger said.

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