While some think the absence of Carnival’s usually frantic party season isn’t much of an issue, Soca star Bunji Garlin has taken to song to remind the public of the wider economic fallout in his release ‘Heart of the People.’
“You so caught up with enjoyment that you don’t see the level of employment. That could have save life when yuh think this woulda destroy them. Carnival is a sea that deep,” the four-time Soca Monarch posits in the song, released on Boxing Day.
The artiste, real name Ian Alvarez, said the song was geared towards people those in particular who felt that the main players had already cashed in, when in fact there were many others who looked to the season for their livelihood.
“First thing they will say is that’s nothing man if they have no Carnival man, the artistes done rich already. But no, those artistes are not rich already. This is a constant struggle, all those artistes, all those panmen, all them small Mas makers who trying to develop their skill, the people who vending all these people trying to get, this is the one time they have to take advantage to secure their whole year and it’s amazing we have a product that could secure yuh year if it go through.”
Garlin said in many cases people don’t even realise that even their family or friends are directly affected by the lack of events due to Carnival’s cancellation.
“When you go to an event and they setting up the venue, some time yuh walk in the venues yuh see someone you didn’t see from since school days. And you didn’t realise that they get hired for the week to set up cloth, some things or to run lights or to run pipe and they able to make some money in the week, and this is thousands of people,” he said.
Bar Service operator Amando Phillips who left his public service job to start his bar service/management company El Mundo Singnature, agreed with Garlin as he explained thousands of persons found jobs during the season.
“The industry loss big time unno is not no small loss is a major, a big sink in the industry a lot of the people look forward to this industry,” he said, “ it has different bar services, companies that provide bar service so people get extra money and then it have the caterers and stuff who cater for the events, the all-inclusive and they hire extra people, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of fine details in the background and everything that’s affected.”
He explained that the sheer volume of events also made sure that there were vacancies to be filled for both full time and part-time workers.
“You see how much bands it have, how much fetes it have. Not one service could provide all. Some could provide to some and others have to add on extra staff, so sometimes they collab with extra bar companies to be able to provide like,” he said.
Without these events, Phillips has had to curate his business and is now selling bottled alcohol cocktails to stay afloat.
Another caterer based in Belmont said after Carnival he would usually record a profit of $50,000 annually after paying staff which he would reinvest in his business in preparation for the year ahead.
Sound and stage equipment company Johnny Q owner John Quan said that division of his company has been locked away as he expects the industry to be done for the year.
Their staff has been redirected into their newly established hardware and pet supply business as they don’t anticipate work in the sector barring a major turn around.
Garlin also pointed out that apart from the standard jobs, his wife Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez also reminded him that even the common man can find financial avenues due to the demand during Carnival.
“You have people who all year they can’t see a single cent but they might be able to buy some cases of water and they come outside the venue and make some change. They might be able to make some cake, sell it, make change, “ he said.
From an entertainer’s standpoint, Garlin among others has looked towards the virtual space as he launched the website Chrending over the weekend.
“My thoughts on this is we have to try and do something. Simple as that,” said Garlin who said they have to consider the possibility that this situation may be around for year’s to come. But he acknowledged that this method too comes with major financial risk for artistes as they also bear the cost to put on these events without really knowing the potential return at this time.
But even as these virtual events are explored, other promoters have pointed out these would still largely exclude caterers, bar staff and security officials who would normally be employed at major fetes.