Soca Monarch 2009.....revolutionized

In today's Trinidad Guardian........
SEAN NERO
Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts (CPP) has outlined an aggressive plan to soundly place T&T’s soca music on the world map, but without the assistance of the State.

Using the popular International Soca Monarch and Groovy Monarch competitions which are already regional brands, producers of the contest have set themselves an ambitious task to revolutionise how the event known as “Fantastic Friday,” is packaged and broadcast.

It will cost not less than $14 million, up from last year’s $8 million, to produce the event which officials hope would transform soca music’s status of the world stage.
In return, CPP has projected income from the cultural exercise to be in the vicinity of $50 million.

There was no mention of the role the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (Tuco) would play in this new frontier.

At the October 29 launch of the 2009 edition of the popular Soca Monarch contest, held at the Jaffa Ballroom at the Queen’s Park Oval, Woodbrook, Gregory Fernandez, president of the foundation, said the United States Superbowl, as well as the Miss Universe Pageant, would be used as models for what the International Soca Monarch Competition and Groovy Soca Monarch should evolve into.

“Through our media partner (the) Caribbean New Media Network, who have recently installed their own satellite up-link, we will be sending the broadcast to several countries throughout the world through various distribution partnership agreements,” he said.
Fernandez said: “So far, that figure is 31 and we hope to up that number by the time we get around to Carnival Friday.

“We also will be providing a full screen, high-definition, quality pay-per-view platform on the Internet. Last year, people from 129 countries viewed Soca Monarch for free.”
Fernandez, in his estimation, said the revenue impact on the local economy would be more than $100 million with a huge impact on Carnival and soca tourism.


Further to that, he believes that global exposure generated by the new format would also bring huge benefits for soca artistes who make it to the finals and the soca genre in general.
“Reggae is a US$10 billion industry worldwide. Who knows how far we can reach if we invest in soca,” said Fernandez.

Prizes galore
More than $3 million will be at stake in next year’s International Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch competitions.
And, the Power Monarch winner walks away with $1 million.
“If we accomplish our financial objectives in 2010, the winner of the Groovy will get $500,000 as first prize,” said Fernandez.

New judging system
Having a totally local panel of adjudicators for the two-prong contest would now be a thing of the past.

Fernandez announced that radical changes would also come to this aspect of the event.
“The judging panel will be restructured with five judges from the other Caribbean islands and three judges from Trinidad. The highest and lowest scores will be removed to minimise bias,” said Fernandez.

Time is money
In an effort to complete the production within the stipulated time frame, one band will be commissioned to provide musical accompaniment to all finalists.
Fernandez said: “Because we are presenting the competition to the world, we have a number of changes to the format of the competition. These include the one-band concept, with each artiste being allowed, at most, two musicians to work with the band. This will allow the competition to be concluded within the three-and one half hours, just right for the global viewing audience.”

New initiatives
Condensing the marathon show into a three-hour package for pay-per-view.
Power Monarch gets $1 million.
An international judging panel.
A celebrity commentary panel headed by Danny Glover.
One music band to accompany all contestants.
Regional Ministers of Culture to accompany their contestants on final night.
Generating an estimated $100 million for T&T Economy.

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