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Local News: Caribana seems to have its groove back Black Habits Articles After years of uncertainty, Caribana seems to have its groove back.

"They're in the second year of a very dramatic turnaround for the Caribana festival," said city councillor Joe Mihevc, during a press conference at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel this morning.

"Unlike previous festivals, we know . . . there will be a festival."

Mihevc, who is the City of Toronto's liaison to the summer festival, joined government and corporate sponsors to announce a raft of changes for the festival's 40th anniversary, which will see the celebration encompassing a much broader swathe of Greater Toronto.

In addition, for — perhaps — the first time, corporate sponsorship seems to be lining up early with support from companies such as CTV, Molson, and Roots Canada - amounting even this early to about $100,000.

"In January, in previous years, we have not had this amount of support this early on in planning the Caribana festival," Mihevc said.

Joe Halstead, chair of the City-appointed Festival Management Committee, announced a raft of new sponsors, and additions to one of Toronto's biggest annual celebrations.

Marquee events such as the Calypso Monarch Contest, Grand Parade and King and Queen extravaganza will remain intact. But this summer, organizers will bring a series of three outdoor concerts to be held in parks in Scarborough, Brampton and Mississauga over three consecutive weekends.

"The idea here is to give a taste of the Caribbean to these communities in a relaxed atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon," Halstead said.

Caribana will also feature a new exhibition at the Blue Dot Gallery in the Distillery District, showcasing Caribbean paintings, sculptures and artefacts.

The Arts and Cultural Festival, which traditionally takes place on Centre Island, will be moved to the Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place.

In addition, Tourism Toronto is taking a stronger role in its commitment to Caribana. In past years, the industry association used Caribana to sell its product and touted the event as a premier attraction to the city. This year, Tourism Toronto is directly funding the festival with a commitment of at least $100,000.

Mike Colle, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, called Caribana a "tourism imperative" today.

"It is good business. It's good culture. It's good fun. And it's about who we are as a province, as a city and as a country."

Last summer, Caribana drew about 1.2 million visitors and managed to turn a small profit. With revenues of $912,000 and expenses of $903,000. That $9,000 difference is marked contrast with previous years in which the festival routinely lost money or failed to produce a financial audit.

The City of Toronto withdrew its funding from the event's founders, the Caribbean Cultural Committee, alleging financial mismanagement. Instead, it appointed the Festival Management Committee to run the event, incorporating members from various interested parties, such as the Toronto Mas Band Association.

The City provides $400,000 in funding for the festival, which is matched by the provincial government. The federal government contributes approximately $100,000.

Note: The Star - Christian Cotroneo - staff reporter
Posted on Wednesday, January 31 @ 22:45:50 MST by jcohen



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