We need answers on Caribana

By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE

One of the questions with which we ended last week’s editorial that dealt with the ownership of Caribana was: Does anybody care?

It had occurred to us that something just wasn’t right. After almost 40 years of sacrificing and scrounging to develop and build Caribana (even just to keep it going) into the spectacular event it has become, the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC) found itself three years ago on the outside looking in. The City of Toronto, which had been funding the festival – with the help of the provincial government – just up and took it away.

So, we were just asking….

And, many of you have responded. It seems as though many of you were wondering the same thing too and that you do care very much what is going on behind the scenes.

We know that, for years, the members of the CCC have been playing the fool with Caribana. Many of you agree on this. You feel – as we do – that a lot of what went on in recent years under the CCC was downright embarrassing to our community.

But it riles up a lot of you that the government could just come in and take it over.

What’s more, many of you wanted to know what is going on with the bank.

As far as we know, the bank entered into a contract to provide some funding for the festival for something like three or four years for about $100,000 or thereabouts a year.

The City, the province and the federal government – which just this year upped its contribution from $100,000 to over $400,000 – together provide in excess of $1 million for  Caribana. So, how come the bank, for that relatively small sum of money, seems to now own Caribana? And how come they can so boldly celebrate 42 years of Caribana as if they have been involved in Caribana for 42 years? Shouldn’t they be calling it the 3rd ———-Caribana?

We are only asking ….

Radio, television, newspapers have all been using the “new” name of the festival. Even the daily newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago are following the pattern. One can only imagine the dollar value of all that publicity. A 30-second commercial alone on television is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, yes, we need to know what we are getting from the bank in exchange for all that exposure. Seriously!!!

By the way, who is paying the salaries of the staff now running Caribana? And, how come they couldn’t find money to pay the CCC staff?

We are just asking….

We also would like to know how committed the bank is to our festival. A number of people called to say that at about one o’clock in the afternoon on Caribana day, all the bank’s people got up and left. Can you imagine anybody with carnival in their blood leaving so early before Caribana done?

Seriously, though, we have been told that the new festival management committee can’t do anything without the express consent and approval of the bank. Is that true?

If it is, then we have the answer to the question we asked last week, you remember, the question as to who owns Caribana. But, for just $100,000 a year?

There is nothing wrong with the way the festival is being run now. The people on the festival management committee seem to be doing a very good job. That is not the problem.

What we are concerned with is the ownership. We want this festival to belong to our community, to be run by our community, and directed by our community. We want its future dictated by the needs and desires of our community. Not some sponsor. Not even the government.

Caribana is our contribution to Canada, and we want it to continue to be our contribution to Canada.

What it looks like now is that we, Caribbean people, can’t do anything right so other folks have to jump in and take it over. In whose hands will it end up next?

We are not even sure that we want Caribana returned to the CCC unless, of course, significant changes are made. But, we do have good, decent and responsible people in our community who could run this festival properly on our behalf and be accountable to us.

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