Enlist overseas Guyanese to support and develop Mash
Stabroek News
March 11, 2004

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Dear Editor,

I have been at enough Mashramani celebrations over the years, that following comments, both public and private, in the wake of this year's event, I offer the following:

1. Government financial support is needed for Mash, as it is needed for carnivals in the Caribbean, for Caribana in Toronto, for Labor Day in Brooklyn, for Folklorama in Winnipeg, and for the national celebration in the Cayman Islands. The support, however, must be on the laissez-faire model and free of political constraints. Cultural expression to be successful, must come from the bottom up; to quote Martin Carter, from "rain falling upwards", not the other way around.

2. The imposition of a theme for Mash is counter-productive. Frankly, in the freed-up mentality of 2004, it's almost silly. Leave the artistic people free to portray what they want; leave them free to let their imaginations soar. The result will be not only more dynamic displays, but a far greater diversity of styles and subjects as well. In other words, better mas' and more variety.

3. Alan Fenty's suggestion for the "widening of Mash" should be taken on board. The people at home should be recruited avidly in this effort. In addition, there are many people who live outside Guyana, still tethered to her culturally, who will be willing to contribute their technical skills acquired over the years in entertainment and business in this widening process. Our Ministry of Culture should organise a Think Mash weekend with Guyanese living in Guyana and those living outside, meeting at a mid-point, such as St. Kitts, to throw around ideas freely for this widening. They must do this soon; forget bam bye.

4. Appoint a Mash Captain in key cities overseas to recruit Guyanese with various kinds of expertise to come to the Think Mash. Appeal to their nationalistic instincts; I guarantee you many will pay their way to come. Two days with some cook-up, black pudding, mutton curry and souse, and I guarantee you the ideas would flow.

5. With the reworking done, in addition to the push at home, go to the diaspora to drive patronage. There are thousands of Guyanese living outside the country who are ambassadors in waiting for spreading the word about Mash and driving attendance. Get them on board. They will advertise Mash at absolutely no cost to Mash.

6. The overwhelming ma-jority of visitors in the Trinidad carnival are Trinidadians returning home; in the same way, the market for a better Mash is sitting right now in New York, Toronto, Ft. Lauderdale, London, etc. in the Guyanese living abroad. Promote the product to them; emphasise the improvements; entice them home.

They can be reached very easily through the more affordable rates in the ethnic press.

6. Start now. We should have started the day after Mash '04 ended.

Yours faithfully,

Dave Martins