– Director of Culture endorses move, seeks resuscitation of tradition
Masquerade bands will now have to acquire an endorsement letter and police permission before they embark on personal ventures that warrant their presence on public roadways.
This is according to Director of Culture Tamika Boatswain in an interview yesterday.
She was responding to a proposed move by the police to ensure that masqueraders receive police permission before taking over the roadways in their ventures, which are often not orchestrated by the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports).
Boatswain informed yesterday that over the years, masquerade bands have failed to acquire the required endorsement letter from her Ministry.
She added that the only time the bands/groups do not require permission to get on the roadways, is when they are participating in ventures directly promoted by her department.
She said her department will soon engage in sessions with masquerade groups from across Guyana to ensure that they operate within the intentions of the Culture Ministry, and also respect the department’s objectives of a traditional approach to their actives.
Over the years, the traditional masquerade art form has dwindled from a traditional cultural showcase to a money making avenue, with dancers just prancing along the roadways and offering lack luster performances).
They demand money from often infuriated drivers, times blocking their paths until the drivers give in.
Yesterday, Boatswain said her department is also faced with a situation where groups are springing up in various communities, getting into costumes and prancing in the streets. She said that many on the roads may not be registered masquerade groups, and as such, she welcomes an intervention by the police. She added that while her Ministry is not against masqueraders engaging in any related activities to showcase their culture, she expects them to operate fully within the confines of rules and regulations governing their practice.
Just about a week ago, masquerade groups created intense traffic congestion on the East Bank of Essequibo.
They blocked the public road for over two hours, even at risk of being run over by angry drivers.
During the incident, two female teenage dancers deliberately stood/danced directly in the path of vehicles, and refused to move until they succeeded in extracting cash from the reluctant commuters.
Onlookers had expressed anger at the fact that dancers no older that eight and ten were being forced to dance in the path of vehicles for cash by a band leader from the West Demerara District. Ranks from the Vreed-en-Hoop Police Station had reportedly refused to intervene.
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