PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) stated over the weekend that it does not need a reason to put St. Maarten bands and musicians first in St. Maarten's Carnival, and will comfortably defend its decision to designate Jouvert exclusively for St. Maarten bands "over and over again."
During and immediately following Carnival 2015, SCDF made it known that there will be changes to several aspects of Carnival moving forward.
The foundation has commenced a series of meetings with St. Maarten bands as the first steps in its plan to restructure band participation in Carnival events. SCDF has already announced that it will no longer allow foreign band participation in its largest road event, Jouvert Morning Jump-Up, news SCDF says was praised by the St. Maarten bands in the first of four meetings held last Thursday night.
The first meeting was with bands that many consider the senior musical bands of St. Maarten, namely: Youth Waves, Rolling Tones, Impakt, Xplosion, Rohie Riddem and Control Band. Next up will be a meeting with 4M HD, Official Band, No Limit, Wicked Boys and Strike Up Band. That will be followed by a session with the DJ's.
All bands and DJ's will come together in the future in a general session to identify the way forward in SCDF's initiative approach, primarily for road events – jump-ups and parades – and activities after Carnival.
The senior bands present in the meeting were said to have commended and encouraged SCDF to "stick to it" in terms of its approach to Jouvert, to which the SCDF has said it is "a position it feels very comfortable defending over and over again."
"We do not need a reason to put St. Maarten bands and St. Maarten artists first. It was not a difficult call for us. We cannot accept seeing the members of two or three local bands standing on the side of the road watching their Jouvert go by because they could not get financial support. They watch foreign bands go by, covered in banners from major companies and others," the foundation said.
"If you can put US $20,000 in one foreign band, you can use that same amount for two or three of ours. We have talent too. We have music too. If there are folks who want to argue against a 100 per cent St. Maarten approach for Jouvert, more power to them, but our bands will be the stars of our featured road attraction."
It was further explained that troupe leaders may still hire a band from abroad for the parades, once certain criteria laid down by the foundation are met for local bands. That criteria is one of the aspects that will be discussed with the local bands and DJ's.
"We urge the public not to believe any story they hear or read about regarding Carnival unless it comes from the SCDF. This story about two Jouverts is one such example. This has been a running joke for the past three years at least, and that is what it remains, a running joke."
The bands are just a first step in a planned approach for ensuring that St. Maarten music and artists remain the most integral part of Carnival. "There are elements that try to paint a negative picture with partial information or rumours. That is not how we operate. We will present the entire picture in an organised manner once we are so far."