ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Organisers of mas’ troupes here have urged revellers to understand that it has become more expensive to organise for the road and to be considerate with the criticism over the cost of playing mas.’
With Carnival festivities launched, revellers told OBSERVER Media over the weekend, they were working hard to find hundreds of dollars in band fees for the two days of street jam.
Our own check confirmed increases for almost all mas’ troupes over last year’s prices. Increases range from EC $50 to EC $150.
Bandleaders are not disputing that it has become more expensive to play, but have apprised patrons of the lengths they go to guarantee a good fete.
“We have two bars in our band, but it’s also a huge expense because you have twice as many bar tenders and twice as many truck drivers,” said Daryll Matthew, one of the directors of Myst Mas’ Troupe.
That’s just a fraction of the cost involved, he said, pointing to “air conditioned toilets, which incur significant costs every year.”
In addition to their costumes, Myst also offers members on-site paramedic services, a pricey offering according to Matthew.
“And so when a person looks at a Carnival band and they see the costumes, what they don’t see is a fleet of services that comes with having that band on the road.
“What we always tell our patrons is when you play mas’ with us you are not just paying for a costume; you are paying for the experience that you get.”
Several Carnival bands, including Solid International Mas’ Troupe, have already launched their 2012 Carnival presentations. The bands hold events in the months leading up to Carnival to raise excitement in their camp, but they also serve an important fund-raisers.
The bandleader and designer for Solid, Chandy Lewis, told OBSERVER Media that in addition to the hard work and time, band organising has become costly too.
“Expenditure for Carnival is not getting lower; it’s getting more expensive. We run an all-inclusive band so that cost is always there because you have to provide food and drinks on the road,” he said.
Sponsorship, he added, has also decreased while the cost of purchasing materials had gone up.
This year customers are paying between $600 and $1,400 for mas.’
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)