Will Toronto mas’ now become a thing of the past ?
Only last month, after we learned that Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020 was cancelled, we asked in an editorial whether the carnival will survive the current COVID-19 global pandemic.
As we pointed out then, many in Toronto’s Caribbean community are strongly of the view that the dreaded virus has killed the carnival and the annoucement of the cancellation was really a death notice.
But as we also stated, there are many others who want to believe that the show will be back on the road in 2021. They argued that because the festival brings in millions of dollars in tourist revenue to the city of Toronto, it will not be “allowed” to die.
Today, we raise the question again: Will the carnival survive the virus attack ? As we report in this issue of The Caribbean Camera, mas’ makers are saying that they are now in debt after making elaborate preparations for the big show which was cancelled.And they are not talking about small change. They say they are in the red by roughly one million dollars.
Of course, compared to the millions of dollars in tourist revenue which the carnival brings to the city annually, one million may seem like a small drop in a large bucket.
But bandleaders are concerned that they may not recover the money that they spent in preparation for Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020. And if they don’t, what will this mean with respect to the future of the festival?
Veteran bandleader Louis Saldenah said the losses which his band incurred this year amounted to more than $100,000.
Another bandleader, Dexter Seusahai estimated his losses at about $150,000.
Up to the present time, the Festival Management Committee (FMC), organizers of the carnival. has been strangely silent about the debt problem and the future of Toronto mas’.
Bamdleaders have informed the FMC of their losses and according to one bandleader, they were told that they ” would be taken care of.”
But so far bandleaders have not been told when they would be compensated and whether they would received full compensation.
Unanswered questions about payments to bandleader do not inspire much confidence in the future of the carnival.
And so at this time, we ask the question once more: In the ” new normal”, will the Toronto Caribbean Carnival become a thing of the past?
Or will mas’ aficionados in our Caribbean community take the necessary action to reclaim the carnival and keep alive our cultural heritage?