BASSETERRE, St.Kitts-Nevis (Friday 10th July 2020) –She is no stranger to Sugar Mas fun and excitement-both professionally and personally- and with her return as newly appointed chairperson of the St.Kitts-Nevis National Carnival Committee, Shannon Hawley is entertaining the idea of virtual and otherwise cheerfulness for Sugar Mas 2020 as the world copes with the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.
In a sit -down interview with ZIZ TV’s Chaira Flanders aired on Saturday 4th July, she (Hawley) shared that “there is hope” on the subject matter when asked about the possibility of hosting Sugar Mas 49 amidst COVID-19.
“The decision regarding Carnival and its direction will be ultimately made by the Minister of Culture, the Hon. Jonel Powell. However, what I can say is that yesterday we had our first meeting with the NEOC [National Emergency Operations Center]. We know that individuals are yearning for recreation. I mean you look at the strip on a Friday night for the past two Fridays and you realize that individuals are desperate. I mean it’s about our mental health.”
According to her, “the discussions were fruitful and there is hope, there is hope and of course in this time of the pandemic, of course it would not be business as usual so we now have to come up with creative ways, innovative ways of maybe not a full scale carnival per say but I think we-when I say we I mean the stakeholders and the stakeholders will be hearing from us soon-, we have to come up with innovative ways in which we can hopefully host a carnival; make it just as enjoyable and exciting as it has been in the past years but of course taking into consideration the restrictions as it relates to COVID …the social distancing, the physical distancing , ensuring sanitization etc.”
Hawley addressed the curiosity of those wondering about the possibility of such.
“Now some people might say ‘How on earth are we going to do this when carnival is about fete, splendor, jamming close?’ but I don’t think it’s impossible. As I’ve said it’s about coming up with creative ways, innovative ways to have fun and do it in a safe environment. So the plan is that we will continue our discussions with the NEOC. then the NEOC will then make a presentation to Cabinet and the Minister of Culture, and then the Minister of Culture along with Cabinet will make a decision as to the way forward with carnival but as I said it’s about out mental health and we’re yearning for the recreation; we missed Music Festival,…we have six months to go to carnival. We don’t know where the six months will lead us, however, we have to make the necessary arrangements whether it’s going to be virtual, whether it’s gonna be a carnival small scale, large scale. However it is, we have to take the nation’s health first and foremost.”
While the new Carnival Chairperson indicated to the interviewer that it is too early for her to share her ideas and plans to build on the successful carnival to date in general, she did, however, say “the intention is to move carnival to a bigger, better international product. Of course it will not happen this year because of the restrictions with COVID but the intention is to move carnival to a bigger better product.”
The announcement of Hawley’s appointment came about on Thursday 2nd July via a press release issued by the Ministry of Culture.
In 2011, for the occasion of the 40th anniversary of National Carnival, she was first appointed as chairperson and was the first female to take up the position.