Toronto Caribbean carnival 2020 goes digital

By Stephen Weir

FMC’s CEO, Aneesa Oumarally

Ooh la la costumes. Thundering pans. Sweet calypso. And while they are at it, throw in a few big name soca performers.

Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020 is getting ready to digitally jump up and thumb noses at the Coronavirus  come July.

While the annual summer festival in downtown Toronto has been cancelled this year because of  COVD-19, the festival  with its rich traditions will be coming to a computer screen near you in about five weeks

Late yesterday afternoon, Aneesa Oumarally, CEO of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which organizes the carnival, told The Caribbean Camera that it ‘s ” all systems go  for the Big Event.

“The goal of the Digital Carnival is to remember yesteryear, remember what we are missing and showcase the the carnival to the world at large, to those that don’t come downtown and sit on the grass,” said Oumarally.

Carnival Yes!

“ We will show them all the things we participate in and how we as a community contribute to the Greater Toronto Area”

Since the City cancelled all large summer events, Oumarally has been meeting with the city officials, carnival bandleaders, pan groups and the Ontario Calypso Performers Association

to see if it is possible to capture the magic of Carnivals past and showcase it online.

“Although the details haven’t been fully worked out, the FMC has the “go ahead ” and the funding to make it happen in July.

“For several nights in July there will be performances using footage from past years, borrowed footage from stakeholders and new pan and calypso performances, including some big name surprises.'”

Oumarally pointed out that “every aspect of carnival will be streamed online, using the FMC’s website  along with Zoom and Facebook. The programming, be it a calypso concert or a pan performance, or a late night costume launch, will be shown free. And it won’t be all content for adults. The children will get their proper due.

Carnival Cancelled. Cancelled!

“ Of course, we are going to use some of the content we already have (from past kiddie Carnivals) but we are trying to see whether we can bring the children into the studio from different areas of the city. We want to stream their presentation with all of them performing together – in a social distancing manner – for the audience at home.”

“We will also be doing the King and Queen,” she continued. “ We  have had so many Kings and Queens, we want to do the best of them! We will prepare videos on the design, people putting costumes together and, of course, the big show.”

” Different bandleaders bring different elements to their costumes and the parade. So, all aspects of the annual event will be seen through the eyes of the 14 different mas’ bands,”she noted.

Discussions are underway with the carnival bandleaders to let them put on the shows they didn’t get to stage live in August.

Here is an overview of the digital plan for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival  2020

July 3, 2020 – Proclamation of Toronto Caribbean Carnival month

Week of July 6, 2020 –   Steelpan – Children and the Carnival – Passing on the torch

Week of July 12, 2020   -Junior King and Queen and Junior Carnival

Week of July 20, 2020- Celebrating Calypso – the history  and the artform

Week of July 26, 2020 – King and Queen – Design, Innovation in mas’

August 1st (TBA)