PM Christie responds to critics of Bahamian ‘Carnival’

Go Lean Commentary

Carnival 1Head –> Heart –> Hands.

This is the physiological process to forge change, described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean (Page 20). As experienced on a daily basis by people attempting to “quit smoking”, change is near impossible without engaging those three body parts. The book, serving as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) describes the linked application of those three symbolic body parts, as follows:

  • Head – Plans, Models and Strategies
  • Heart – Community Ethos
  • Hands – Actions, Implementations, Advocacies

According to the below news article, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas wants to forge change in his homeland. He wants to incorporate a new festival, based on the model of Carnival and Madri Gras, so as to glean some of the massive economic harvests around those events in the Caribbean and other Western Hemisphere destinations.

Since initiating this plan in Spring 2013, cyber-space and public commentary have been awash with feedback: some in favor; most opposed.

Albeit he is inspired by good motives, the publishers declare that something is missing in the Prime Minister’s plans: Best practices.

By: Erica Wells, Managing Editor
Prime Minister Perry Christie has assured critics of the Government’s plan to create a Bahamian Carnival or Mardi Gras that the festival will be “essentially” Bahamian and that a special committee will be appointed to prepare the country and the world for the initiative.

Addressing the MP’s in his 2013/2014 budget wrap up, Christie said many people rushed to judgement after he made the announcement last month. The week-long festival is slated for a 2015 start-up and the government will spend $1 million to help with its development, which may incorporate a cultural village, public processions and song and costume competition. The $1 million will be allocated to the festival next year and will be a joint effort between the public and private sector, he said.

The government, Christie says, sees the festival as both a major economic intervention and a cultural expansion.

“It will be essentially Bahamian but also include thousands of visitors who will be attracted by what will be an absolutely fabulous affair,” said Christie.

Anthropologist and author Dr. Nicolette Bethel, who is also a former director of culture, has been one of the biggest critics of the proposed festival.

Bethel told Guardian Arts&Culture before Christie’s communication earlier this week that she did not have a problem with the idea per se, and that it was long overdue, but the timing and title were both “awful”.

“As a result I don’t think it’s feasible,” she said. “I have no idea what consultation, if any, was done with the relevant community. It falls during the Junkanoo downtime and I do not think that the practitioners will seriously be able to prepare for it, and in fact many of the most serious (Junkanooers) are out of the country attending the real carnivals that take place all around our region at that time — New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, and of course Port-of-Spain.”

Bethel said she did not see that it would have any real effect on the current Junkanoo parades.

She also criticized the government’s $1 million allocation to the festival.

“One million dollars according to our data is nowhere near enough money to fund something of this kind,” said Bethel. “Annual Junkanoo parades take up to $3 million of the government’s money — $2 million at least. If that money were invested in creating a Junkanoo festival at the normal Junkanoo time it would go far further, but I do not see any way that we can hope to compete with the real carnivals by introducing something fake like this. It’s a total waste of a good idea.”

Christie noted that many critics questioned why The Bahamas should copy Trinidad or Brazil, and why the country would move away from Junkanoo, which is “spectacularly Bahamian”.

“Let me say at the outset that prior to making my announcement, I consulted with several icons in the world of Junkanoo and without exception they were fully supportive of the idea and immediately confirmed their willingness to work with the committee, which will be appointed to prepare The Bahamas and the world for this new festival,” said the prime minister.

The government will shortly appoint the committee, said Christie.

Paul Major, a former banker and Junkanoo participant, has been invited to chair the committee. Robert Sands and Ed Fields, and other major figures in the cultural field — in painting, music, drama all of which are a part of this new enterprise — will also be invited to sit on the committee, he said.

“I expect the committee to hold full consultations with all of the major personalities of Junkanoo, and associates. “I will, for my part, advise the committee that I do not wish them to interfere with Junkanoo.

This is a separate and different activity,” Christie explained. He noted that the major Junkanoo groups and their leaders will be advised that the government does not propose to licence those groups, unless there is overwhelming evidence of general acceptance by the rank and file.

Prime Minister Christie said for the groups to be licensed, they would have to form themselves into a company and operate as a business.

“This is a massive undertaking which will receive very careful consideration of the government,” he said.

“This is very necessary as the corporate groups will be advertising abroad and inviting persons to purchase costumes online as well as from store fronts in a cultural village or elsewhere.”

The Prime Minister said the committee would ultimately move recommendations to the government for its consideration.

Christie also noted that he has met with Sarkis Izmirlian of Baha Mar and advised him that the festival was one of the major promotions the government was putting in place in view of his introducing 2,200 new hotel rooms in December 2014.

“He liked the idea. The committee will recommend whether there should be a preferred resort destination or leave it to the choice of visitors,” said Christie.

Carnival worldwide industry

The prime minister said carnival is part of a worldwide masquerade industry.

He said the industry has been successful in attracting costume makers, wire benders, painters, designers and performers at some of the largest festivals in the world.

“It has an export dimension. We know of major festivals in Trinidad, Brazil, Toronto, Barbados, New York, Miami and London. Carnival in the diaspora generates hundreds of millions of dollars and creates many jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

“It is big business and it requires business planning, management, marketing of products and organizational structure,” said Christie.

Prime Minister Christie said costumes from carnival inspired designers show up in New York, Toronto, Notting Hill, London, Miami and many other centers in the U.S.

“The committee will be briefed and have the opportunity to visit carnival enterprises in Brazil, Trinidad and even Toronto, where carnival has become arguably the largest festival in the world,” he said.
Source: The Nassau Guardian Online. Posted 06/22/2013. (Retrieved 04/24/2014) –

The Go Lean roadmap is different! It employs best practices for assessing, strategizing and implementing change. The book commences with the practice to assess current landscapes; this is what strategists call “Understand the market / Plan the business”. Page 44 presents these questions:

• Who are our customers and what exactly do they want?

• Who are our competitors; how do we stack up against them?

The book then proceeds to answer these and other strategy queries, accordingly.

carnival 2Events/festivals are paramount in the Go Lean roadmap: the optimization of existing events and the introduction of new events. This advocacy is detailed on Page 191 as being supplemental to the goal of enhancing tourism (Page 190).

What are the prospects for this new Bahamas Carnival/Lenten festival?

On the surface, it seems far-fetched, as the Bahamas does not have a Lenten ethos. All the competitive destinations (Rio De Janeiro, New Orleans and Trinidad) have elevated lent habits (Ash Wednesday to Good Friday), so that Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday actually has significance in preparation of this hallowed Lenten season. Without this ethos, it is hard, though not impossible, to forge a new tradition, festival or business model. But the mediocre financial investment, announced in the foregoing article – $1 million as opposed to $3 million, makes the success of initiating and promoting a new event an insurmountable obstacle.

The publishers of the Go Lean roadmap wish the Prime Minister good fortune with his plans, but this execution does not appear to be lean, within “best practices”. More is needed; much more! There should be more focus on “Head, Heart & Hands” principles. As a contrast, notice the detailed strategies, tactics, actions and advocacies for new events in the Go Lean roadmap:

Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Non Government Org’s. Page 25
Impact the Future Page 26
Foster Genius – Performance Excellence Page 27
Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Customers – Business Community Page 47
Strategy – Customers – Visitors / Tourists Page 47
Strategy – Competitors – Event Patrons Page 55
Separation of Powers – Emergency Mgmt. Page 76
Separation of Powers – Tourism Promotion Page 78
Separation of Powers – Sports & Culture Page 81
Separation of Powers – Fairgrounds Admin. Page 83
Separation of Powers – Turnpike Operations Page 84
Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities Page 105
Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering Page 182
Ways to Improve [Service] Animal Husbandry Page 185
Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Ways to Impact Events Page 191
Ways to Promote Fairgrounds Page 192
Ways to Improve Emergency Management Page 196
Ways to Impact Hollywood [& Media Industry] Page 203
Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Ways to Promote Music Page 231

In summary, festivals/events are important, so they require lean administration and executions. They empower economics and fortify cultural pride. In all, they make the Bahamas, by extension the entire Caribbean, a better place to live, work, and play.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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