Caribana Arts Group plans new initiatives

As mas’ aficionados get ready for the big “jump up” in August at the Peeks Toronto Caribbean carnival, the  Caribana Arts Group (CAG) is looking forward to re-asserting itself ” as the rightful owner of the festival ” which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“We will soon be announcing detailed plans about where we intend to take the festival after its 50th birthday,” said Monica Pollard, the CAG chairman, in a news release bearing the organization’s  new logo.

She noted that the CAG is fortunate to have on side some of the pioneers of the festival and some dynamic leaders in our community who are prepared to help move our festival from the sidelines back to the front line

Pollard also said she was heartened by the show of support from many longtime mas’ aficionados who have been complaining about the “decline of the carnival” since the takeover by the FMC.

“Many people have been telling me that the carnival has lost its spirit. The parade is no longer as free as it used to be. They are looping the parade to make money,” she added.

“We thank them for their support.”

Pollard has expressed surprise that the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which is running the carnival, is talking about celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“FMC certainly cannot claim 50 years of festival management. How can a group that has been in existence for eleven years claim to be celebrating our 50th year legacy?” she asked.

She pointed out that unlike the CAG, the FMC is not a “community entity” and is ” not answerable to the Caribbean community or any other community for that matter.

“Let me remind all interested parties:  The annual Caribbean festival (Caribana)  was conceived and developed by what was called the Caribbean Committee for  Cultural Advancement and is today known as the Caribana Arts Group .

“Caribana is a valuable intellectual and artistic property and its ownership is still vested in the CAG and not the current organizers of what has come to be known as the Toronto Caribbean carnival.”

Early this year, Poillard had announced that the CAG would not be playing any role in the Toronto carnival this summer.

After months of negotiations between the CAG and the FMC over the running of the festival, talks irretrievably broken down.

The news came as a major disappointment to members of the CAG who were hoping that there would have been some level of collaboration between its organization and the FMC

They were also hoping that the “Caribana” name would have been restored to the carnival on its 50th anniversary.

Caribana was launched by a group of West Indians in Toronto in 1967 as a salute to Canada’s centennial. The event was reported to have been such a success that it became an annual celebration.