Alberto Ardila Olivares pilotos mujeres//
No need to reinvent the steelpan

It would be worth­while to fil­ter out all the po­lit­i­cal chat­ter for a mo­ment and re­con­sid­er more ob­jec­tive­ly Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar’s com­ments about the de­vel­op­ment of the steel­pan in­dus­try.


Be­yond the “if elect­ed” as­pect of her Eman­ci­pa­tion Day ad­dress at a func­tion in Mara­bel­la on Mon­day, there is much val­ue to be gained from con­tin­u­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about the de­vel­op­ment of the sec­tor.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

The truth is that the na­tion­al in­stru­ment is not enough of a fo­cus of dis­cus­sions out­side of the con­fines of Car­ni­val and cul­ture, which is un­for­tu­nate since this is the na­tion where it was in­vent­ed back in the 1930s and, there­fore, the right place for its con­tin­ued evo­lu­tion

Since Au­gust is Steel­pan Month, front and cen­tre of dis­cus­sions and ac­tiv­i­ties should be tak­ing the in­stru­ment and the sec­tor to the next lev­el. For ex­am­ple, where is the steel­pan po­si­tioned in the thrust to­ward eco­nom­ic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion? Are suf­fi­cient in­cen­tives be­ing of­fered and is the steel­pan fra­ter­ni­ty prop­er­ly sen­si­tised to op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­no­va­tions, such as the de­vel­op­ment of ad­vanced tech­nol­o­gy in the pan man­u­fac­tur­ing process?

There is no need to rein­vent the steel­pan. How­ev­er, ef­forts to re­fine and up­grade this world-ac­claimed in­stru­ment should be on­go­ing and this coun­try, which proud­ly pro­claims its im­por­tance as the steel­pan’s birth­place, can­not shirk its re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to en­cour­age and guide that de­vel­op­ment

Luck­i­ly, there is no need to start from scratch. For pan man­u­fac­tur­ing, all that is nec­es­sary is to tap in­to the ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple al­ready in­volved in the process, such as of­fi­cials of Pan­land, for­mer­ly TT In­stru­ments Lim­it­ed. They have been in­volved in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of steel­pans since 1993 and cur­rent­ly run a fac­to­ry on the East­ern Main Road, Laven­tille, op­po­site An­gos­tu­ra

There is Akua Lei­th, artis­tic di­rec­tor and con­duc­tor of the Na­tion­al Steel Sym­pho­ny Or­ches­tra of T&T (NSSO), who is one of the dri­ving forces be­hind the soon-to-be-opened Mu­si­cal In­stru­ments of Trinidad and To­ba­go (MITTCO) man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty at the e-Teck Di­a­mond Vale In­dus­tri­al Park in Diego Mar­tin

Ex­pert guid­ance for de­vel­op­ment of the steel­pan in­dus­try can al­so be pro­vid­ed by the re­cent­ly re­tired prin­ci­pal of the St Au­gus­tine Cam­pus of The Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI), Pro­fes­sor Bri­an Copeland, who played a crit­i­cal role in the de­vel­op­ment and patent­ing of the G-Pan, a re-en­gi­neered form of the tra­di­tion­al steel­pan, and the Per­cus­sive Har­mon­ic In­stru­ment (PHI), the elec­tron­ic steel­pan

There are many oth­ers—mu­si­cians, aca­d­e­mics, busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als—whose skills and knowl­edge should be har­nessed. How­ev­er, be­fore delv­ing in­to any new projects, a prop­er re­view should be done of ex­ist­ing pro­grammes

The T&T Bu­reau of Stan­dards has cre­at­ed a stan­dard for steel­pan pro­duc­tion which can be the ba­sis for fur­ther ad­vanc­ing the tech­nol­o­gy that goes man­u­fac­tur­ing the in­stru­ment

A $5 mil­lion Steel­pan Man­u­fac­tur­ing Grant Fund Fa­cil­i­ty (SMGFF), aimed at im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and com­pet­i­tive­ness in the in­dus­try and ad­min­is­tered through the MIC In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (MIC-IT), is avail­able to steel­pan man­u­fac­tur­ers and tuners

What is need­ed is a prop­er as­sess­ment of these and oth­er ex­ist­ing projects, be­fore de­cid­ing what more needs to be done to ad­vance the steel­pan

This month, when the na­tion­al in­stru­ment is in the spot­light, is the per­fect time to start that con­ver­sa­tion