Getting ready for the ‘new normal’
Although it was not unexpected, the announcement last week that Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020 has been cancelled is a great disappointment to mas’ aficionados.
But will the carnival survive the COVID-19 global pandemic ?
Many in Toronto’s Caribbean community are strongly of the view that the dreaded virus has killed the carnival and the announcement of the cancellation is really a death notice.
And, of course, there are many others who want to believe that the show will be back on the road in 2021. They argue that because the festival brings in millions of dollars in tourist revenue to the city of Toronto, it will not be “allowed” to die.
Not “allowed” to die?
Will the governments – federal, provincial and municipal – continue to pour more money into an event which is debt ridden and after more than 50 years, has not become financially independent?
Undoubtedly, many mas’ makers in Toronto produce excellent costumes but their organization lacks management skills.
They may be very good at creating “organized comess” but after so many years they still cannot cannot organize a successful business to run their own affairs.
And let us not fool ourselves. Things will not be” back to normal” after the current COVID-19 crisis is over.
In fact, with the projected downturn in the economy the ” new normal” will present some major challenges and we have to prepare ourselves to face them.
Many of us like to fool ourselves in believing that once we have mas’ on the road, more than a million people will simply show up to watch the parade.
Seasoned mas’ watchers keep telling us that the carnival is in decline. Our Caribbean diaspora is losing interest and the number of Canada-based persons who are turning out to see the parade is decreasing.
Of course, the problems we are facing are not new.
Back in July 2016, as the festival was getting ready to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary,we raised some important issues relating to the carnival in an editorial.
The questions we raised then are certainly relevant today.
Let us consider some of those question as we prepare for the “new normal.”
Do we know who has legal, effective and beneficial ownership of the Toronto carnival that is currently being operated by the Festival Management Committee (FMC)?
Do we know who has control over its policies and content? Are we satisfied with the publicly visible aspects of its policies and content?
Are we satisfied with the level of public accountability and transparency of its operations?
What is the role of the three levels of government in this FMC carnival?
What is the role of the private sector sponsors in this carnival? What are the details of their financial sponsorship and what do they get in return? What are their rights and responsibilities as sponsors?
Has there been a consequent decline in the advertising value of the carnival parade, given any combined effects of fewer bands and fewer spectators?
Does the Caribbean diaspora community in the GTA have any rights or responsibilities to be exercised in the FMC’s carnival?
In summary, to whom or to which entity is the FMC accountable and has the FMC been accountable to that person, group of persons or entity?
As we pointed out in the editorial back in 2016, in asking these questions, we are not simply engaging in a legal exercise.
Rather, our objective is to aim at an evaluation of the realities of our current situation. Where are we now? And what are we to do about it?
We should think carefully about these matters as we get ready for the “new normal.”