All-female tent claims discrimination by Gypsy
ALLEGATIONS of nepotism, cronyism, self-dealing and gender discrimination have been made against chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Winston “Gypsy” Peters after an all-woman calypso tent was excluded from participating in the “Taste of Carnival 2022” calypso events.
A pre-action protocol letter was issued to Peters on Friday by attorney Martin George, demanding that Divas Calypso Cabaret International, which was founded in 2004 by Dr Rudolph Ottley, be part of the line-up or face legal action.
Peters has been given until Tuesday to respond to the letter.
In addition, George said his client will also be filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission for it to investigate “whether the National Carnival Commission as an institution has an inherent bias and ingrained discrimination against females”.
George said that earlier this month, Ottley became aware the NCC, through its agent, the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Association (TUCO), released a series of documents identifying selected calypso tents that will be part of the events.
“To our client’s great surprise, he was told that his calypso tent did not make the said listings and thus they will not be performing at any of the Taste of Carnival 2022 events.
“Additionally, our client was also informed that in addition to TUCO’s calypso tents, three privately owned calypso tents made the listings, which are the Calypso Revue, the Icons Tent and the Back to Basics Tent.
“Our client contends that the Back to Basics Tent is owned by your good self, Mr Winston “Gypsy” Peters, and the Back to Basics Tent does not have the history, pedigree, track record or antecedents of our client’s Divas Tent, especially since Back to Basics Tent only began operating in 2019,” the letter said.
It said the Divas Calypso Tent’s status in the industry is identified by the number of competitors from a calypso tent who are selected each year to compete at the annual Calypso Fiesta competition as a prelude to the Calypso Monarch finals.
“During the period 2015-2020 (six carnivals) the average number of calypsonians selected from the Back to Basics Tent was one while five were chosen from our client’s Divas Cabaret Calypso Tent.
“It therefore begs the question as to what criteria was used by the NCC, of which you are chairman, in selecting your own Back to Basics Calypso Tent to perform in the Taste of Carnival 2022 events while excluding our client’s Divas Cabaret Calypso Tent,” it said.
Further, the letter said the current issue opens Peters up to the possibility of allegations of nepotism, cronyism and self-dealing, in that he selected his own calypso tent as a beneficiary of the largesse of State-funded support and financial incentives.
That selection was made ahead of Divas Cabaret Calypso Tent, which is better qualified, better prepared, better resourced in terms of its line-up of performers and has a much better track record, pedigree and history of performance than Back to Basics, it said.
“It also raises the spectre of discrimination on your part because our client’s tent is an all-female calypso tent and thus it would seem that in the machoistic and misogynistic world of NCC’s calypso gayelle, you are clearly making a statement that there is no place and no room for an all-female calypso tent,” the letter said.
By: Rickie Ramdass