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Brian London performs during the Taste of Carnival-Klassic Russo opening night at the Garden Theatre, Queen’s Hall, last Friday.

The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) yesterday announced the cancellation of the Calypso and Extempo competitions in this year’s ‘Taste of Carnival’.

The announcement came after an emergency meeting of the organisation yesterday afternoon.

TUCO said the $1.5 million allocated to it was not enough to put on both shows.

“The said 1.5 million was insufficient to host both the National Calypso Monarch and Extempo Monarch finals, the Calypso Tents, paying the accompanying band and our suppliers. Further, 1.3 million was already allocated to the various Calypso Tents throughout Trinidad and Tobago to host their shows which left TUCO with $200,000.00 which was impractical to host such competitions including of prize monies.

Therefore, in the interest of Calypso and our membership, the General Council thought it prudent to defer the competitions to 2023 for a bigger and grander production,” TUCO said.

The organisation added: “TUCO sincerely apologises for the unavoidable inconvenience caused to the seventy (70) plus registrants for the National Calypso Monarch and Extempo Monarch competitions and directs that the Zonal Offices be contacted for a refund of the entry fee.”

Instead, it said the scheduled Calypso Fiesta carded for February 20 at Naparima Bowl, will take the form of a concert showdown featuring calypsonians from Trinidad and Tobago.

It also said TUCO will participate in the Dimanche Gras show on Carnival Sunday which will take the form of a ‘Calypso Super-Clash’.

Responding to questions in the Senate yesterday, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell also dampened any hopes of additional funding by the Government to facilitate the shows which are considered by many as a staple in Carnival tradition.

Following news of the cancellation of the Calypso and Extempo competitions, Guardian Media attempted to reach Minister Mitchell and NCC Chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters for comment. However, calls went unanswered.

Reigning Extempo monarch Brian London was not too disappointed the competition was cancelled. He noted that many of the formidable opponents would have been excluded from the competition because they were unvaccinated.

“Imagine you got to the Cricket World Cup and you have some of the main players or some of the main teams not being there and a country wins that particular World Cup. Would they really feel as they won that World Cup- not being tested by the best or almost the best?” he told Guardian Media.

Instead, he said he is disappointed in how the art form was treated.

“Some of our predecessors, the Mighty Sparrows and the Melodies and the Atillas and they would have fought tooth and nail to get calypso to where it is today and to see it being dragged down and be degraded and disrespected and brought back to almost nothing is what I’m disappointed in. That is my biggest disappointment,” he said.

He called on other calypsonians to band together and turn down any other opportunities to perform in similar showcases.

“If it’s one time we stand together, stand together now. If any organisation or any entity calls upon you to be a part of anything that resembles Calypso Monarch competition or an Extempo competition, I call upon you to stand firm with TUCO and with other calypsonians and say no,” he said.

— with reporting by Rishard Khan