This year’s New York Panorama competition was shrouded in controversy due to several factors that included a rain delay, a supposed lack of a contingency plan for the delay, a late start to the event, and no adjudication for the competition that has yet been explained by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), who hosts the event.
The competition, which was scheduled to occur on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum, encountered a rain delay. While spectators expected there to be a plan in place to allow music to proceed as usual, possibly at a nearby indoor facility, the rain caught the festival organizers off-guard enough to cause a delay until the following day. Management then told band leaders that the festival would resume at 12pm on Sunday. However, the gates to the event were not opened until 3pm, to the ire of attendees. This then caused some band leaders to pull their bands from performing all-together, with only the Philadelphia Pan Stars performing while judges were in attendance, according to arranger Khuent Rose during a Facebook Live broadcast.
The Big Meeting
According to Khalil Chu-For, pannist and co-host of the “Three Pannists” podcast, the bands were only paid $2250 of the $4500 promised to help with preparation for the event, to cover operational costs like rehearsal space and equipment/truck costs. It’s also likely only a few bands were paid, at that, according to Chu-For.
“They were paid half the prize money from last year with no promise for the rest, as far as has been reported,” Chu-For said. Of the leader’s lack of taking a more aggressive action to obtain the monies owed to the bands, Chu-For added, “I feel like the attitude towards Panorama from leaders has always been like that of someone doing their family a favor. And the words, ‘labor of love’ get thrown around a lot.”
Khuent Rose was one of several band leaders in attendance at a meeting organized by WIADCA that took place on Wednesday, September 13. Leaders were allowed to voice their grievances to the group about the issues from the event. Rose then posted a Facebook Live video explaining what occurred during the meeting.
According to Rose, one band leader, Martin Douglas of Crossfire Steel Orchestra, explained that he wanted WIADCA to provide a date by which they would promise to pay monies owed to each band. He added that his band would not perform again until dates would be set up by which the bands knew they would be paid. The idea was seconded by another band leader. “No one disagreed with the facts, including the decision to do things. At some point after his decision, the other band leaders decided to collectively walk out of the meeting,” Rose said. “The band leaders agreed about what they were doing. If all the bands agreed to do something, it’s the band’s fault.”
The outrage about the outcome of the event was clear from attendees who posted on Facebook, including Markus Garceran, a pannist and member of Pan Sonatas Steel orchestra, who posted on the WIADCA Facebook page.
“You have turned a cherished annual competition into a glorified ‘jamboree’. How dare you not only put on a piss poor panorama, after having pan players spend EVERY summer night practicing for YOUR event, but attempt to rush us out of the Museum (parking lot) as if this entire ordeal was a disservice to you and you didn’t just save yourselves $40,000 for removing the competition aspect of the event,” Garceran wrote. “MOST IMPORTANTLY, your organization was WILLING AND READY to jeopardize children’s health by having them wait, stand in, and perform in the pouring cold storm that Saturday night. You have lost what little respect I had for you in the first place. I sincerely hope steel pan organizations smarten up fast and have this be the last WIADCA sponsored Panorama because it is abundantly clear you guys have no problem disrespecting a treasured art form.”