Articles ‘causing more people to ask questions’

Dear Editor:

Now that the Caribana season is over for 2010 and the media have temporarily left the scene, we can see clearly that yours is the only medium that cares enough to hold the City and FMC’s feet to the fire where Caribana is concerned. The CARIBANATM ARTS GROUP (CAG) thanks you for this.

We refer specifically to your articles in the August 5 and 12 issues of Share (Serving the Community for 32 Years), and want you to know that the CARIBANATM ARTS GROUP, the legal creators and owners of the trademarked CaribanaTM Festival, does care that “we are more in the dark now than ever before”. (Auguste, SHARE, August 5, 2010). We want you to know too that your articles are causing more people to question and talk seriously about how to make FMC accountable to our community and not to the City.

We agree with you that, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” However, we would contend that when factored in and monetarized, the hours that our volunteers contribute to Caribana far surpass the governments’ financial input.

Of course, you would know that since its change of leadership in February 2009, the CAG has been trying (with limited success) through legal and other means to hold the FMC accountable to our community through our organization, which still has legal ownership of the festival and associated trademarks.

So far, the FMC has given up on its attempt to (takeover) the CARIBANATM ARTS FOUNDATION, and has given written acknowledgement that we are the legal owners of the trademark. We would have made much more progress had our position not been compromised by a “Trademark License Agreement” … signed (with) the FMC in March 2009 (by someone who) did not have signing authority. The CAG Board knew absolutely nothing about said “Agreement.” This is the “agreement” that gave (others) the unprecedented rights (they) have over the festival.

FMC has resisted our efforts to find out the terms of that sublicense ….. However, we have continued to press them on this and other issues.

Shortly after a failed attempt to have a proper agreement signed on July 15 this year, the CAG did not seek an injunction that might have brought negative attention to the festival; instead we agreed to meet again on August 23.

Like you, I spent time on the parade route, something I’ve done every year for a number of years now, and I can corroborate much of what you observed. Apart from the shortcomings you have mentioned, one of my major concerns is the danger that the fences that cut across the street at British Columbia Drive create. Thousands of people remain trapped between those two fences for long periods. God forbid that there should be a stampede (in that area) for any reason.

The CAG still has some faithful members who can see the bigger picture and understand that the City could not have gone into any other community and taken control of its property. For several reasons we have not gone fully public, but we can assure you that we have not resigned ourselves “to accepting the current status quo as far as the ownership/management of the festival is concerned”. (Auguste, SHARE August 12, 2010).

We find ourselves in a paradoxical position though: we need wider support from our community in order to hold the FMC accountable; but the wider community wants to see us in a position of control before they openly support the CAG.

We are fully cognizant that despite CAG’s (CCC’s) flaws, we had a community that felt connected through Caribana. We could have spoken openly about what worked or did not work. Now, we have a fractured community with its pillars supporting the City and the FMC, even though they know there are shortcomings in FMC’s management of the festival, and that in the last four years considerable sums of money have been (unaccounted for).

Thank you for the role you are playing in helping to destroy the illusion that Caribana is “better” since the FMC. Your perspective means a lot.

In the meantime, the CAG will continue on its path to regain our community’s trust, respect and support and exercise our right to demand accountability from the FMC for the CaribanaTM Festival.

Henry Gomez, Chair


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