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Island People goes back to drawing board
By Leiselle Maraj Thursday, August 18 2011

Hearing the cries of distress from their loyal followers, Island People mas band has come to the rescue by offering to revamp their 2012 Carnival presentation, Heroes to suit the tastes of their masqueraders.

“What were they thinking?” probably was the most pleasant of the overwhelmingly negative feedback received for the presentation after the band launch last Friday at a venue close to Bowen Marine Chaguaramas, which Island People called Westopia. Heroes is a presentation featuring 11 sections all depicting a variety of local “superheroes” ready to take flight as defenders of all things good.

Few sections got the nod from persons who viewed the presentation or saw pictures; some were critiqued for “quirky” elements of design and others were bashed outright and rejected. Comments began surfacing as statuses, comments or “tweets” on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites during the live launch and continued afterwards when photographs of the unveiling from various media outlets were published online.

Island People’s Colin Greaves said the band committee members noted all comments regarding the band as well as the e-mails received from loyal band members. “Persons expressed to us the designs were not what they had in mind. They explained while they appreciated things Island People has done in the past which were out of the box and different, what they were looking for was something more in line with what is contemporary Carnival,” he said.

As a result, the band will be doing something which has never been done before in Trinidad. “We will allow them to be part of the redesign process,” he said. He explained a special tab has been placed on the band’s Facebook page which band members can click on to access pictures of the different sections. They simply have to click the “Like” button if they want the costume to remain in the presentation. They can also make suggestions on how to improve the design. The two sections which receive the least “Likes” will be eliminated.

“We are happy to commit to replacing designs based on the suggestions of our loyal band members. We have never done this before but we have received an overwhelming response from our followers that they are happy and relieved that we listened to their cries for change and even invited them to be part of this,” Greaves said.

The tab named, “Save Your Costume”, received numerous kudos from persons commenting on the page who called the band “brave” for their solution to the problem but asked that the band include male costumes for critique.

This process of including followers in the redesign, Greaves said, is part of Island People’s push this year to create a more personable experience for their masqueraders. “This year we are focussing on providing VIP or Very Island People treatment for our masqueraders and having them voice their concerns and us actually hearing them is part of this. Since this incident we are discussing having more public involvement in the band in the future but for 2012 we have decided to have more questionnaires and online polls to get feedback from our masqueraders,” he said.

Greaves attempted to defend the original costumes which made up the Heroes presentation. “They are avant garde costumes, not the traditional large feathered backpacks or costumes decorated with shiny bling which are elements of contemporary mas. We tried to be a little different. You will see designs for super hero costumes internationally, there is no feathers or bling included but because it is for our Carnival there are some elements of this in the costumes.

“We wanted people to see the band and identify it with Island People and not just a pretty blinged out creation. But I guess our followers did not expect us to go that far out the box,” he said.

Greaves said committee members met with their designers who have agreed to revisit the designs and after taking the suggestions of the public will complete the new designs for viewing by next week, in time for the opening of the band house on Tragarete Road on August 25.

“We have been talking back and forth about what we will put out and we have agreed that we will maintain Island People’s uniqueness and originality that we are known for. Do not expect all bling and feathers but we will pull back on the reins. As we have seen some people are really happy with some of the designs so we know how far our followers are willing to push limits and to move out of box,” he said.

Greaves said the new designs will be launched within the coming week in a smaller event that the big launch last Friday.

They are working on having it streamed live so persons who cannot attend the launch can also view the new costumes. “And of course we would be welcoming feedback,” he said.



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