Carnival plays an important role in preserving T&T’s social identity. This is as true today as it was in the past. By continuously reviving the country’s rich wealth of traditions, Carnival helps harness the bonds with the historical heritage, and relive the past in an authentic fashion. However, as we all know, society has changed – and so too has Carnival. Times have changed, and Carnival has had to rapidly adapt to the new media-centric world in which we live in, driven by mass consumerism, economic needs and new types of digital marketing.
Today, Carnival has become a medium that serves as a strategic tool for competition among global cities, and as such depends on the strength of the communication and marketing outlets of a city as much as they – the communication outlets – depend on Carnival itself as a means for reaching out to new audiences. Port of Spain, Rio de Janeiro, Venice and London, are without doubt some of the cities that offer the most visually exhilarating Carnival spectacle across the globe, which makes them natural meccas for the globalizing tourist demand.
As a result of these globalized processes, T&T Carnival finds itself having to live up to growing expectations, as it seeks to meet the global tourist demand while staying true to its origins and roots. Not an easy task. The risk implicit is obvious. The question naturally arises as per whether our Carnival risks being stripped of its ancestral traditions. Has our Carnival become a mere ritual of consumerism, which draws-up fetes that mimic events such as Halloween or the opening of sales at Harrods? Are we sure that we are not losing touch with our past? Are we sure that the price we pay to grow our tourist revenue is not too high?
While there can be no doubt about the commercial value and intrinsic revenue potential attached to Carnival; there is so much more to Carnival than consumerism-oriented opportunities for profit generation. Let us not forget, for instance, that Carnival still represents a ‘safety valve’ for tensions within large multi-ethnic cities characterized by socio and economic inequality.
At the end, it all comes down to striking the right balance. A balance, that is, between the opportunities that Carnival affords T&T to shine as a star in the Caribbean and indeed across the world, and the will to retain past traditions by tastefully weaving them into an innovative product that creatively meets the tourist demands of this new, globalized world in which we live.
Photo source http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/show-44-carnival-celebrations-around-the-world/