Published On Mon Jul 26 2010
Re: Caribana to dazzle, on a budget, July 19
It is very unsettling, yet not unexpected, that Caribana is being treated like a cultural outsider and a barbarian at the gate by the different levels of government. Why is it that the largest festival in this country with the greatest economic impact is being treated as the cultural Cinderella within the family of Canadian festivals?
The Calgary Stampede is normally regarded as the largest “Canadian” festival, but its economic impact is merely $173 million versus the $438 million generated by Caribana over a two-week period. It is difficult for a reasonable person to not see race and culture mediating how government funding is distributing grants to certain cultural projects.
While the federal government’s Marquee Tourism Events Program gave the Calgary Stampede, Carnaval de Quebec, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival $1,001,625, $1,449,435 and $3 million in grant funding, respectively, Caribana didn’t get a penny in 2010.
The Celebrate Ontario fund obviously does not count Caribana as a true reflection of the cultural fabric of this province. Why would this provincial funding program give $300,000 each to the Hot Docs, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Pride Toronto/Pride Week, Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato and Rogers Cup initiatives this year, but zilch to the best economic performer in this country?
Is Caribana a victim of cultural racism? This festival is obviously being treated differently and I cannot see any rational reason for the difference in funding when compared with festivals that are seem as a part of the white mainstream or cultural alternative scene.
Caribana is making tons of cash for the government and private business, while the creators of this festival are subsidizing it with their volunteer labour, intellect and creativity.
Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto