Trinidad and Tobago Government Welcomes Passage of Legislation Making Steelpan the National Instrument

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday said the passage of the legislation affirming the steelpan as the national instrument of the country marks a significant milestone for the steelpan movement.

steepan(File Photo)In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said that it cements the steelpan’s central place in the nation’s history, culture and future.

“It honours the indigenous roots of the steelpan and pays homage to pan pioneers,” the ministry said, noting that the steelpan proudly traces its roots back to Trinidad and Tobago, having been invented in the 1930s and 1940s in the Hills of Laventille on the outskirts of the capital, Port of Spain.

“Its origins are closely linked to Carnival festivities, having been birthed out of the energy, innovation and cultural expression of the Trinbagonian people. What has often been heralded as the only musical instrument to be invented in the 20th Century has seen many innovations including the most recent introduction of the Genesis Pan,” the ministry said.

Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister, Randall Mitchell the vision is to embrace and propel steelpan “as our own,” and  so, the movement continues with tangible efforts toward diversifying and expanding the steelpan as well as protecting its Intellectual Property.

The legislation was passed in both  houses of Parliament this week and  gaining unanimous support from all legislators.

The Bill entitled “An Act to provide for the designation of the Steelpan as the National Musical Instrument of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and for related matters” was first introduced in Parliament on June 7th, 2024.

“We have listened and responded to the repeated entreaties of our sSteelpan producers and tuners, our jurists and legal luminaries, our historians, other stakeholders and most importantly, our citizens, in heeding the call toward the legislative declaration of the Steelpan as the National Musical Instrument of our twin-island Republic,” Mitchell told legislators.

He said the legislation would protect against international infringement of the steelpan rights and proprietorship, as it will “statutorily codify the universally accepted fact that the steelpan is a product of our own people’s innovation and a significant element of our cultural heritage”.

Mitchell also spoke of the significant role that this legislation will play in enhancing international marketing strategies for the steelpan, the steelpan fraternity, and other related cultural assets like Carnival.

The ministry said that following the passage of the legislation it will not be submitted for Presidential Assent.

Mitchell has prioritised the promotion and preservation of the steelpan and last year, he  successfully made a petition at the 77th  United Nations General Assembly for the adoption of the resolution to declare August 11th World Steelpan Day.

The ministry said this declaration was a significant step in “securing international recognition for our indigenous instrument”.