The Steelband Movement – A Way Forward Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

(PRWEB) – In global terms, the steelband world has moved and is
moving rapidly ahead. In the land of its birth however, few benefits from this
forward move have accrued to its creators, proponents and progeny. As a
Trinidadian woman actively involved in the steelband world for over twenty-five
years, this fact has been the driving force behind many of the initiatives with
which I have been involved. In this article I will look at two ways in which the
movement may move forward and also benefit its creators and their cultural
descendants.Inventions of worth do not long remain the sole property of the creators.
Intellectual property rights worldwide ensure exclusive rights for a limited
period of time, after which the public at large can utilize the creation to
their benefit. The steelband, even as a part of Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural
heritage, never gained that initial protection and the skip to the public domain
has been made. This is an open door that many are now fighting to close. In the
interim, groups formed in Europe and North America have organized festivals,
competitions and workshops centering on the instrument. Entrepreneurs on these
continents have entered the market and made major economic strides in the areas
of promotion and manufacture. These initiatives have impacted the individuals
and groups involved, but only in a few circumstances have the gains trickled
down to the communities that created the art form.

In 1995 I proposed the utilization of Trinidad and Tobago’s steelband
communities as economic structures that would propel the instrument and the
communities forward. Since that time and perhaps before, others have proposed
similar moves with varying success. I know that the steelband communities in
Trinidad and Tobago have within their boundaries, many talented individuals. I
still firmly believe that their strengths can be utilized to promote the
steelband product through manufacture, research and development, marketing,
performance, cultural exchanges and associated administrative and labor tasks
thereby positively impacting their communities, the nation at large and the
global steelband movement.

[Dr. Dawn Batson, associate professor of music, holds degrees from renowned
institutes of higher education. Her Ph.D in music and international affairs from
the University of Miami, an M.M. is but one. She was most recently associate
professor and director of the steel band music program at Florida Memorial
College. Over the years Dr. Batson has fulfilled a number of roles in many
countries – including performer, arranger, conductor, teacher, judge, composer,
musical director, lecturer, grant writer and producer].

[Photo courtesy of when Steel Talks].