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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Voted No to Tribe Toronto

I posted in the comments What do YOU want from Tribe in Toronto? (on Jan 20th) this information from a band leader:
The band leaders are taking steps to avoid the move (Tribe TO in Caribana) as they feel it would have some adverse effects on the membership of their struggling numbers, particularly the smaller bands. It's a fight each year to get the required numbers with the existing number of people who play mas in Toronto. This is estimated at max. 6000, and that's conservative.
Here's a useful explanation of the numbers:

"A" bands need 150 members and a 6th placing and better to retain their status (7th & 8th are demoted to "B"). "B" bands need 75 members and a 3rd to last placing or better to remain in the parade. In addition all bands are required to have at least 75 members to remain as a participating band. Some bands struggle each year to get their 75. In 2009, one "A" band couldn't make the 75 number and was omitted from the 2010 parade (Jesse Matthews) , so numbers have become a serious problem. A most significant issue is that they will further erode the numbers of the smaller bands and that will affect Caribana as a parade.

All proposed band leaders/co-band leaders must be a member of TMBA (Toronto Mas Bands Association) for at least 1 year. Another concern is, because of the price structure presently employed in Toronto (costume $160.00 max), it is feared that they cannot maintain the quality of costume they produce in Trinidad (@min $3000.00TT) something that masqueraders are probably expecting, unless the cost increases, and that will either put an additional burden on the players, or they will get substandard costumes. That had been established last year, causing some players to be short changed.

There is yet another issue where this will be a third name change of this band in as many years - Evolution, All Spice and now Tribe Toronto - not to mention what it was before Evolution. When will it end?

The main issues and concerns are the drain of members of the smaller bands and the status of the parade.

Some might say that their (Tribe TO's) inclusion will enhance the parade, but the band leaders have to look at how it (could) affect other aspects of the parade and themselves as bands - bottom line.
Well as a result of TMBA's Saturday meeting with the band members, 13 out of 15 eligible voters voted against Tribe Toronto in Caribana 2010.

A band leader told me it's not about competition (which he said he's not afraid of) - it's about the drain of masqueraders and losing the Festival Management Committee (FMC) funding. He said that on the surface, people wouldn't see these things (and assume it's that they don't want competition.) There is obviously serious issue with providing funding for an outside band (associations with, for example, Trinidad) to this Toronto festival. Bands are concerned about losing their funding. Here's as an example of draining of masqueraders: if a B band had 80 members last year, but they lose just 6 masqueraders, they are disqualified, and out of the parade this year.

Oh, the explanation about Tribe TO being in the top 8: because All Spice placed 1st in the B bands last year, they were promoted to the A bands, allowing them to be in the top 8 in the parade.

This is certainly an out of the ordinary incident for Caribana as I've said before, and as it's just January, I'm sure it's not over - "Tribe TO" could very well apply to be in the parade with another name.

So for those who were looking forward to playing with Tribe TO because it was Tribe, who will you play with now?


Tr|n|gYa| said...

I'm not going to touch on the subject of how the vote turned out. Lol, I know that process is far from over.

Which would lead to/answer your question about persons who were planning to play with TRIBE TO. The plot is still thickening ;)

Ms Trendy said...

Oh I had no idea that this "Tribe TO" was actually the former Evolution band (2008) turned All Spice (2009) turned Tribe TO (2010). My curiosity was originally sparked, but no more. Not interested. I say NO too! I'm not afraid to leave the band I am loyal to to try something new, but I also value consistency - they change names more often than Prince! LOL

Guess we'll see if they can muscle their way in and how they fare on the road in the parade... maybe they'll win my vote.

Good blog Kara - keep up the fabulous work and keeping the mas lovers well informed.

Anonymous said...

I figured all this information would eventually come out...let's see what is to come!


Anonymous said...

I'm sure a little of the fear is about competition. But I can see both sides. Especially for the small band leaders. They WILL lose membership to Tribe TO if they are allowed to enter the parade. It's also unfair that Tribe TO would have been allowed to be in the top 8 bands when any other new band would have been relegated to the back.
Introducing Tribe would have been a boost for the economy and for the parade, I agree. But let's do it fairly. There can't be any special dispensation just because it's Tribe. Go to the back of the parade. Keep your costume prices in line with everyone else. Stick to the rules that all of the other bands have to follow. THEN let's see what you're really about.

Carnivalcocoa said...

Well said Kara and Anonymous 11:13am. Lots of people have no idea the massive amount of politics involved in organizing a parade/carnival in North America. Even moreso in TO since the gov't is providing funds. Then you're definitely subjected to more stipulations and are held even more accountable. I never knew about the band size quota issue so that adds even more pressure for band leaders and the carnival committee.

In the US, the carnival committees have to PAY the city government to have the parade i.e. parade licenses, vendor licenses, organize with Sanitation to clean up after the carnival, extra police manpower, and pay the local TV media for coverage if there's any money left over for that. The city does not provide any money, they want to make money off of the carnival. POLITICS I tell you. Trust me on this, I wrote a paper on NY labor day carnival years ago and interviewed insiders on this plus I know people who used to sell along the Parkway, so I know.

Like I said before and I say it again, people can't do like they in Trinidad, you're in another man's country. This is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't exactly going to play with Tribe, just because they are Tribe, unless their costumes are at least half as good as they are in Trinidad and if I find a costume I like...I'm kinda like a vulture when it comes to costume hunting. Don't really care what band it is...but I'm definitely going to be more careful this time around.

Anonymous said...

tribe toronto tried to bring in tribe trinidad and ruin all funding that goes to all the band leaders. you cannot be in canada and illegally make money. the government is just looking for a reason to take over the parade and it is unfortunate that tribe toronto was willing to risk all that people have worked for just for sheer greed. tribe trinidad is a great band and was probably unaware of the shadiness the toronto side was trying to commit. lying and cheating will get you no where. the truth will eventually come out. trying to blame big bands for being jealous or scared of competition??? next time just step up your game instead of trying to yet again ride someone's coat tails in order to advance!

it's about time the bandleaders stuck together and fought for what is right instead of letting one persons greed and poor business sense allow the parade to go down the drain.

booo for evolution/allspice/tribe to..

Anonymous said...

TO ALL MASUQERDERS:-Don't be misled by advertisements appearing in the media and on face book re TRIBE TRINIDAD coming to Toronto. There is a procedure whereby a mas band wishing to be accommodated in the Caribana parade has to apply to the governing body Toronto Mas Bands Association (TMBA). My information is that no mas band has officially applied to TMBA for the purpose of doing so, therefore be forewarned about where you invest you hard earned dollars. In 2009 some of us were deceived with costumes appearing at a new band's BAND LAUNCH. What we got was far inferior to that which was eventually distributed. I understand that the organizers of TRIBE TORONTO are the same people involved with the 2009 debacle. YOU ARE WARNED.

Carnival Baby said...

First off, thanks to Karabana for a wonderful post as usual.

I've read these comments and must agree with Elsa. I, too, played with the DISASTER band, All Spice & as for Customer-Service, there was NONE. I was told that my Frontline Costume would be ready before all the others in my section and got my costume the night before the parade. I'm talking 12 midnight AFTER a good friend of mine went down to the camp and literally stalked down the "band leaders" (not leaders at all) to find anything resembling my costume. Furthermore, Elsa...it's not three stooges, it's four. NO ONE in that band had any professionalism and when I kept calling all their cell phones to ask when I could collect my costume, I kept getting voicemail.
If any section leaders of All Spice are part of Tribe - you cannot call it Tribe because it will not have the same prestige associated with Tribe. I have friends who have been playing with Tribe since the "Poison" days and are loyal for not only the gorgeous costumes/customer service but the entire experience as well. Tribe Toronto? Really? I agree also with Karabana and some of you when you outline why Tribe in Toronto will not work as it does in T&T.

People want to talk about giving them a chance? Vote No. I gave All Spice a HUGE chance. They were all so nice at the beginning and soon as they got my money, the real Spice began. It's called manipulation and using Tribe's good name as a sick marketing tool. No one should stand for this. I'm GLAD they were voted out.
It's also appalling that as a first time mas player here that I now judge every band on a "what if" category. Because of A.S., I'm contemplating not playing mas in Toronto again.
I've heard great stories about the Revellers/Nationz but it's all dependent on who the band leaders are. It's called character. A.S. needs to look that word up in the dictionary and realize a name change means nothing.
Also, the quality of food/drinks was poor and also came after 2pm. When other bands (even some of the small ones) were lively and enjoying the music, each A.S. member I met were sharing horror stories with me. How's that for a nice Caribana vibe? Is it war or Carnival?
Anyway, I hope every mas player out there, even if you choose to play with a small band, ensure that the band leaders have character and will stick to their promise of making it a great experience for you. Now I see why most people invest more in the fetes and don't spend on costumes.
Can't wait for the launches!

Mira said...

I played mas for the first time last year. I read your blog & got GREAT advice (I should have played with a top 3 band as you suggested Kara...but instead, I followed a friend who wanted to play with a certain costume) - WORST way to guide a decision (That person was also a caribana newbie & did not really understand the "perks" of playing with a well-established, top 3 band).

The OVERALL experience must be considered when deciding on playing mas. I played with All Spice (and needless to say) it was a HORRIBLE experience - From EXTREMELY POOR customer service to a badly designed costume.

That band has a stigma of DRAMA (I remember reading about All Spice's formation & the drama associated with it) and that is NOT the essence of caribana. Enough of that negativity.

The Tribe TO band that was just voted out is promising the SAME things that lured us to their band last year. Members of All Spice are now calling themselves another name & I expect that they will call themselves another name (as suggested earlier) and try to enter the parade.

Aside from the politics of caribana in Toronto (Kara gave good points about funding, price-structure,etc); in my opinion, people should also be aware of the drama & it's a good thing blogs exist to educated people on mas (to make wise decisions)....
Everything needs to be considered.

It seems that HUGE factors - the politics of caribana - were not taken into consideration..and that is why Tribe To was voted out). Seems like a rushed venture.....ODD.

Karabana said...

Another band leader I spoke with told me that he personally doesn't have a problem with competition from Tribe TO, he said his band produced presentations in the past that could have won in Trinidad.

He said just like how Trinidad Carnival has rules & regs that must be followed, so does Caribana. An outside (non Trinidadian) band can't compete (in Carnival) - if your nationality isn't Trini, you can't bring out a band (in T'Dad). SAME APPLIES HERE WITH TORONTO'S CARIBANA.

His said (if Tribe TO was permitted) it's not a Canadian parade anymore, but a Trinidad Carnival. He doesn't want to see Caribana lose it's identity.

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