The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the Soca Warriors campaign in Germany has officially withdrawn involvement with planning the cultural initiative, designed to heighten awareness of our team and country before and during the playoffs.

At Monday's Executive meeting, members unanimously voted to withdraw from the exercise after reviewing Government's apparent lack of enthusiasm for embracing the LOC-initiated project, proposing a joint approach or, for that matter, sharing its own strategy for providing this aspect of support to the Warriors.

Consequently, the LOC found itself unable to concretize commitments to suppliers of goods and services in Germany, make down-payments on hotel accommodation, secure airline tickets, or follow-up on arrangements for complicated surface travel, or confirm bookings at rehearsal and performance spaces; all of which became increasingly expensive with each passing day.

Since our country qualified for the playoffs, the LOC has been relentlessly working on a supporting cultural package, tailored to each city where the Warriors will play first round games. In addition, the LOC envisaged participation in other major events, the first of which – Trinidad and Tobago Day – is scheduled for May 20 in Kaiserslautern.

After meeting local German Embassy representatives, the LOC funded a 16-day mission to Germany last December, during which contact was established with the Mayors of Dortmund, Nuremberg and Kaiserslautern. On-site meetings with the latter two mayors resulted in pledges of cooperation and identified performance spaces.

The cultural initiative has received several offers of assistance from entities based in Europe and has held discussions with Pan European, the Friends of Trinidad and Tobago Association in Germany and event management companies willing to contribute their efforts toward making our presence there a success. A number of locals, including Patrick Hamel-Smith and Pixie du Coudray-Marshall, also volunteered help at no fee.

From hundreds of local entertainers expressing interest, a 130-member cultural contingent was assembled. Among those with whom fruitful discussions were held since early January are calypsonians Black Stalin and David Rudder, world-champion steel orchestra Sagicor Exodus, Tobago's Signal Hill Alumni Choir, The Laventille Rhythm Section, soca singers Maximus Dan, Destra and Bunji Garlin and Roy Cape & the Kaiso All Stars. The LOC also pledged to take the winner of the International Soca Monarch competition on the tour.

Talks with a number of other entertainment providers, including The Police Band, tassa groups, chutney star Rikki Jai, dance companies and seven-time King of Carnival Peter Samuel Jnr and supportive groups like the Trini Posse were put on hold, pending the outcome of discussions with Government.

Indeed, none of the above ever contemplated exclusion of or disrespect for the Government. After repeated attempts (beginning early in January) to detail progress to the Culture Minister, a 90-minute meeting eventually took place on February 15, at the end of which the Minister promised to contact the LOC within 48 hours. Today marks one month since that promise, with no further communication coming from that source.

The Ministries of Sport and Tourism have clearly indicated they will not be funding travel, accommodation or performance fees for the cultural initiative, although the latter vowed to assist with promotion of events to be held in Germany.

On February 17, the Tourism Minister invited the chairman of the LOC's Cultural Committee to visit Germany with a team from the Tourism Development Company (TDC), a trip scheduled to begin on March 5. Although the chairman was advised (a mere 48 hours before flight time) that the trip was postponed until April, we later discovered that the TDC team went to Germany at the original time anyway. On Monday last, a meeting scheduled by the Tourism Minister was "postponed indefinitely."

Against that backdrop, the LOC regretfully decided to withdraw its efforts, noting that it is already quite late to complete arrangements for the contingent, given the increasing complexities of securing accommodation and surface travel across Germany for so large a group at a time of unprecedented tourist influx.

The LOC wishes to thank all local artistes with whom it held talks, grateful for their patience, hoping they will understand our best-intentioned efforts have been irretrievably frustrated.

Richard Groden

CEO, TT/Germany 2006