Calypso: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
At a discussion on Calypso organized by DBS as part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations last month, held at the University of the West Indies, Dominica Open Campus, the treasurer of the Dominica Calypso Association (DCA) presented the following on the management of the DCA.
Treasurer Narrin 'Trendsetter' Murphy has given me permission to present his thoughts and analysis, and, where necessary, paraphrase from his PowerPoint presentation which provides an insight into Calypso and its management, now and in the future.
a. The Dominica Calypso Association is categorized as a not-for-profit organization
b. Notwithstanding, its affairs has to be managed prudently if it is to remain viable in the short, medium, and ultimately, long term
In managing the art form the PowerPoint presentation highlighted:
• Cost management- operations/events
• Asset utilization- building/ other assets, equipment and its general utilization
• Human resource management- calypsonians, staff
• Relationship- sponsors, partners, and financial institutions
Narrin stated that the following are critical for managing the art form is the successful staging of its shows: Eliminations, Quarters, Semis, and the Grand Finals as it allows one to make critical decisions and timely adjustments thus eliminating guesswork and inefficiencies.
Highlighted was the fact that prior to 1978, before Vaughn 'King Shakey' James was elected first president of the DCA, Calypso was run by the Carnival Organizing Committee (COC), when the monarch received $500 and participants were offered drinks as rewards for their efforts.
Narrin also mentions the first office on High Street, Roseau, a rented facility that was not in the best of condition. Today, the king receives $20,000 and the DCA is now housed in its building at Bath Estate; it can boast of being the only Calypso organization in the region to own such a 'handsome' facility.
Narrin said that yesterday people loved Calypso, attended all events, no one dared stage a competing event on the night of the Finals, and was, and still is, the most critical component of Carnival. However, he was first to admit in a SWOT analysis that Calypso of today had strengths it also had weaknesses, opportunities, and treats/ challenges.
a. We produce good Calypso
b. Remarkable performers
c. Dominicans at home and abroad look forward to the upcoming season Weakness a. Insufficient avenues to showcase talents; there were limited Calypso tents
b. Limited financial resources, lack of a government subvention, mandatory statutory obligations such as VAT
c. High cost of recording
d. Seasonal nature of the industry
a. Virtual shows- due to Covid-19 epidemic
b. Regional exchanges
c. Training opportunities- administrative, writing skills, events management
d. Sale of intellectual property- online streaming
a. Global pandemics eg Covid 19
b. Lack of interest by younger population (who gravitate towards Bouyon)
c. Influence of other genres on the younger population (Bouyon, Reggae, etc)
d. Economic downturn.
Because of his analysis, Murphy surmised that Calypso cannot be complacent and the DCA must continue to plan ahead for unforeseen eventualities such as man-made or natural disasters. The art form must work with other interest groups and also manage the calypsonian's expectations.
The promotion of Calypso in schools was another area identified. Note that quite a few scholars have used Calypso as their thesis for scholastic achievements such as Professor Gordon Rohler, calypsonian Dr. Hollis Liverpool- the Chalkdust, and our own Steinburg Henry.
Also suggested was the need for an improvement of the Leo Club-sponsored junior monarch show and for the DCA to continue to provide support for continuity and the need for periodic review of the judging criteria.
However, in all this, Mr. Murphy said the feedback for the general public is of paramount importance as the DCA does not have a monopoly on ideas. One of these ideas of an annual observance of a Calypso Day has been taken on board and so just as Bouyon has a specific day, May 27th will now be known as Calypso Day commencing this year 2021.