There have been mixed reactions towards adopting a virtual model of Carnival in T&T.
This comes on the heels of Jersey City West Indian and Caribbean-American Carnival celebrating its milestone 25th anniversary virtually last from 2 to 6 pm on Zoom, Instagram and Facebook Live.
In an interview with Guardian Media Ltd, (GML) chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Winston Gypsy peters said, “Well I don’t know how effective a virtual Carnival would be.”
According to Peters, Carnival is something that entails people, revelry and competitiveness. He noted he was unsure how well these elements could be captured virtually.
He admitted, however, that Panorama could be adapted to a virtual format. Peters said: “You could do that, anybody could do that because if you’re putting on a Panorama, it’s a show you’re putting on, you will put it on with out anybody except the judges…and just do it virtual to the public.”
Nevertheless, Peters said the model adopted by Jersey City is something for the country to look at because different innovations needed to be introduced into T&T Carnival.
He said that the county is unsure of how long the spread of COVID-19 would persist and what would be the final outcome.
Peters said as of now, Culture Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced that Carnival is not going to be postponed. Still, Peters mentioned that he is unsure of how well a virtual model will work with a culture that prizes physical interaction.
Meanwhile, head of Caesar’s Army, Jules Sobion told GML, “I do think it is very possible.”
He said he was recently in discussion with his team about the potential of a virtual Carnival celebration.
Like Peters, Sobion acknowledged Carnival as an event that is “high touch.”
He explained that if it is done online, it has to capture the experience for people to really want to buy a ticket to enter.
According to Sobion, the transition to digital events is revolutionary noting “this whole new world of tomorrow is due for exploration.”
But the streaming of online Carnival events is not an entirely new phenomenon, said Sobion.
He said in previous years, Machel Montano streamed his Machel Monday events, where people all over the world purchased tickets to see it online.
“Foreigners have been paying for that streaming of the concert so they can watch it in their own homes,” said Sobion.
In these types of events, Sobion said there is an excitement that can be shared online but it would be much harder to transmit the sensory experience of Carnival Monday and Tuesday virtually— as it was meant to be a lived out experience.
He said a virtual Carnival could be used to market an experience that is so incredible that it would spur more visitors to the island for the following year.
Sobion also noted that there would be economic benefits of an such an event, recalling the recent Verzuz clash between Bennie Man and Bounty Killer which attracted almost 500,000 people online.
According to Sobion, if another event of that standard were hosted where attendees would have to pay US $10 to enter— there would be at least 250,000 people. He noted that in this way foreign exchange is also generated.