PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) formalized its new structure last week by electing a new board with a new President and also formalized the newly established Director position. In the process, the foundation continued its movement towards “getting younger” by elevating its two youngest board members to the Presidency and Vice Presidency.
Current Media Director of the SCDF Alston Lourens was elected as President and longtime SCDF member Chabely Cortico was elected as Vice President. As the foundation had explained on numerous occasions, the appointment as Director of long-time SCDF President Mike Granger was made to give Carnival the full-time, year-round attention it requires considering the festival’s growth and extensive future plans.
Granger, who reports directly to the board, had one year left on his 4-year term as President (until August 2017) and also carried Director responsibilities. To effectively meet its goals, in particular those of increased self-sufficiency, the foundation opted to separate the two positions by hosting early elections when a new President would be elected.
As such, Granger now becomes Carnival’s full time Director in charge of the day-to-day business of the foundation under supervision of the board. His position is particularly important as the SCDF is still comprised of volunteers with day-to-day jobs and other non-Carnival related responsibilities. He has served the SCDF in one capacity or the other since 1999.
The rest of the board basically remained the same: Franciane Peterson as Secretary, Vida Boyrard as Assistant Secretary, Edwardo Radjouki and Roland Rommy as board members. The foundation will fill two open board positions in the next few weeks after the departures of Giovanni Radjouki and Malcolm Cooper from the board. Lourens and Granger will carry responsibility for the finances of the foundation while Patricia Rogers will maintain her function as Office Manager.
“I am fortunate to have been elected to this position at a time where public and regional opinion of SXM Carnival is at an all-time high due to the hard work and dedication of the past president, this board, the revelers, bands, artists, promoters and our esteemed corporate sponsors,” Lourens said. “I believe the challenges of this term are to convince this country and then the world that its best product is its biggest event, which is Carnival,” he added.
Lourens continued: “This country’s economy relies on tourism, and while the authorities in charge of the economy(tourism) are constantly looking for exciting and memorable experiences to offer and promote, to lure the rest of the world and its money to St. Maarten, Carnival the biggest most exciting most memorable event on St. Maarten still struggles to find the support needed on all levels to properly run its operation.”
He said while other Caribbean countries have used a festival or even created a festival to boost its tourism product like NorthSea Jazz in Curacao, St. Kitts Music Festival, St. Lucia Jazz, Dominica CreoleFest, “our country still seems reluctant to get behind our Carnival with the same gusto.”
He said every member of the SCDF Board has put “blood sweat and tears” into this festival for years and some for decades. “I feel I am the luckiest president ever because I am surrounded and supported by this board of experienced, dedicated Carnival lovers, who have literally brought this festival to this unprecedented level of success, it is now time to go global and show the world what we have to offer,” Lourens said.
Granger said the election of Lourens and Cortico is a prime example of the foundation’s mission to get younger whenever it can. “You cannot replace experience, but it is important for any entity to groom its young members and prepare them to take over one day. Young people bring new ideas, fresh perspectives and new networks into Carnival. We are very proud of our history of grooming and elevating from within.
“When you have young dedicated members, you have to trust their abilities, you have to give them the opportunity to put their stamp on Carnival. We have the fullest confidence in Alston to lead the board. He is a supremely dedicated out-of-the-box, forward thinker and Carnival lover. The function of President is not an easy task. Far from it. But Alston can take comfort in knowing that he is surrounded by people who loves Carnival and want to see it continue to grow,” Granger said.
He added that the “great thing” about the SCDF is that titles and positions are exactly that, titles and positions. Team work, he stressed, is the fuel that drives Carnival’s engine. “For formality and legal purposes we have to do things by the book in terms of structure. But when we work, we work as a team, regardless of titles. We believe that early preparation leads to better execution and that’s where the task of the Director comes in. But truly, when it is time to execute for Carnival, it is Team SCDF,” Granger said.
There will be several announcements regarding Carnival 2017 upcoming. The SCDF can be contacted via email: email@example.com.