The Caribana Arts Group (CAG) is studying a proposal put forward by the Festival Management Committee (FMC) to promote the Toronto Carnival ” by its brand name, ‘Caribana,'” the Caribbean Camera has learned.
The CAG has not disclosed the details of the proposal but the Caribbean Camera has obtained a copy of the ” points of understanding ” put forward by the FMC which has been running the festival for the last ten years.
It states as follows:
” 1.Going forward, The Toronto Caribbean Carnival will be known and promoted by its brand name
2.The FMC and the CAG agree to pool their resources and compliment their efforts in the interest of the betterment of the Caribbean Festival
3.The headquarters of the Festival Administration will be the current offices of the FMC located at 19 Waterman Cresc. Toronto
- The FMC will be the only entity that seeks funding and apply for Grants on behalf of the Caribana Festival
- This understanding will be in place for 5 years
- Because of the urgency to implement this program and the structure ( 2017-50th anniversary) immediately, a three person committee (one CAG, one FMC and one independent) will select the initial Board members and key personnel.”
The Caribbean Camera has learned that at a meeting two Saturdays ago of the CAG at which Monica Pollard, the chairman, presided, the FMC proposal did not meet the approval of several members.
It was reported that some members were particularly incensed by the proposed funding arrangement and from one member there was a counter proposal “which involves an unnamed investor.”
One CAG member who did not want to be named, said that what the FMC was proposing was ” an unequal relationship. Many of us just cannot go along with that.”
The CAG meeting was not well attended, insiders report. They say less than half of the members of the organization showed up.
The board of the CAG was scheduled to meet yesterday evening to decide whether to accept the FMC proposal. But at press time no information was received from the CAG about its decision.
In an editorial last July headlined “Quo vadis , Toronto Carnival,” we raised serious questions about the running of what used to be called Caribana. Unfortunately, we still do not have the answers.
Many mas’ aficionados still refer to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival as Caribana .Others simply call it “our carnival.” But let’s face it: Is it really “our carnival”? And what of the future of the festival which now appears to be in decline?
If it were really “our carnival,” we certainly would have had been provided with straight answers to many of the questions about the running of the festival. We would have had answers about the future direction of the carnival, the level of indebtedness of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which has been running the carnival for the last ten years, the FMC’s problems in attracting sponsorship or grants – all relevant questions as we approach the festival’s 50th anniversary, less than a year from now.
What about the role of the City of Toronto which provides some measure of funding for the festival? Are city councillors satisfied that taxpayers’ money is well spent in the running of the festival by the FMC?
Sad to say, we do not know the answer to these questions, even as we hear about a proposal from the FMC to the Caribana Arts Group (CAG), a small organization with less than a hundred members which “owns” the Caribana name but seems to be going nowhere with it.
Now we hear that the FMC wants to jump into bed with the CAG? Is this going to be a marriage ? A common law relationship ? Or what? Sorry, we do not know. However, from the information which we have received, what the FMC is proposing looks like an unequal relationship.
Would you believe that the FMC is telling the CAG which seems to have a serious communication problem – Is the CAG leader really afraid to speak to the media ? – that while it is proposing that the Toronto Caribbean Carnival will be known and promoted by its brand name ” CARIBANA,” the FMC ” will be the only entity that seeks funding and apply for grants on behalf of the Caribana festival.”? Why would the CAG go along with such a proposal? Surely, the FMC cannot be really serious.
As one of our front page stories notes, this proposal has not met with the approval of some of the members of the CAG at its meeting two Saturdays ago. In fact, we learned that one member of the organization has come up with a counter proposal which involves an unnamed ” investor.” The information reaching us about this deal is sketchy. However, it is now left up to the CAG board to decide whether it will accept the FMC proposal or reject it.
How the Caribana organization found itself in this sorry pass is not a subject which we intend to explore in this space today. It is clear, however, that the old Caribbean Cultural Committee which had been running the festival before the takeover by the FMC has left us a legacy of mismanagement.
Back in 1967, the founders of Caribana gave to Canada and to the world a cultural extravaganza of which Caribbean people everywhere could have been proud .Today, some of these founders such as the late Dr. Alban Liverpool from St. Vincent, the late Peter Marcelline from Trinidad and the late Archibald Bastien from St. Lucia must be turning over in the graves with the news of what has become of their Caribana.
The festival which used to be described as the biggest of its kind in North America should be restored to its rightful place in the honour roll of Caribbean carnivals. But without a clear vision of where the festival is heading, we continue to ask: Quo vadis, Toronto carnival? Quo vadis, Caribana?
As mas’ aficionados look forward to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the festival next summer, we hope that dynamic leadership in the Caribbean community will prevail to rescue Caribana and make it once again a cultural jewel of which we can all be proud.