Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saldenah: Chronicles of Machel Montano

On Friday April17th, Saldenah Mas Band held their launch for their 2015 theme, Chronicles of Machel Montano. The launch was held at the Chandni Grand, a new venue in Scarborough. The launch began at around 12:30am, with 17 sections gracing the runway. Each section represented hit songs from extensive Machel Montano's catalog of new and classic music. 

The sections included:  

 Big Phat Fish

Powder Puff 

Outta Space


Vibes Cyan Done


Indian Gyal


Wild Ants

The Sun

Higher Than High

Mr. Fete


Pump Your Flag


Party Done

Like Ah Boss 

For more pictures from the launch check out our Facebook album 1 and 2.  
As well as video from the launch posted on our instagram page @thecollaboblog
For more information on Saldenah registration, check out their website at:

Tribal Carnival 2015 Band Launch: Animation

On Saturday April 11th, Tribal Carnival launched their 2015 presentation for Toronto Carnival, Animation! The launch was held at Armenian Community Centre, with nine sections gracing the runway. The sections included: 



Triton's Treasure







For more pictures from the launch, check out our Facebook album.
Check out our instagram @thecollaboblog for video clips of Animation!

For more information to register for Tribal Carnival, check out their website at

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Toronto Carnival Band Launches

Hey Readers!

Trinidad Carnival is done, so you know what that means! Toronto Carnival Band Launch Season is right around the corner!

Here is the list of upcoming launches to look forward to

Tribal Carnival 
Animation! Fantasies of Carnival
Saturday April 11, 2015

 Fantazia International presents 
Wonder of the Caribbean
Date: May 2nd, 2015
730 Military Trail, Scarborough ON

 Toronto Revellers presents
Date: May 2, 2015
45 Hallcrown Place

Carnival Nationz presents
On Broadway 
Date: TBD

Saldenah presents
The Chronicles Machel Montano
Friday April 17th, 2015

 Carnival Revolution Presents:
Diary of a Mas Man
Date: TBD

Fusion Carnival presnets
Date: TBD

More Launch dates to be added soon!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Toronto Carnival Reflection: Part 3

Hey Readers,

Thank you for stopping by The Collabo Blogspot. This is part 3 of my Toronto Carnival Reflection. As with part 1 and 2, the purpose of this reflection post is to share some of my observations and opinions on Toronto Carnival, with the hope to generate discussion. Within Part 3 of my Toronto Carnival Reflection I will highlight the incorporation of participatory approach, engagement and evaluation within Toronto carnival. 

Engagement and Transparency

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” – Henry Ford. 

Although best known for his involvement within the automotive industry, the aforementioned quote from Henry Ford is one that I believe has applicability within Toronto Carnival. The quote highlights the opportunity for success when engagement and collaboration is leveraged. Subsequent to Toronto Carnival 2014 I have noted several initiatives, such as radio interviews, Facebook groups, blogs and petitions that have provided a platform for Toronto masqueraders, patrons and stakeholders to engage in dialogue regarding the state of the carnival. The success of Save Toronto Carnival to engage the public through social media has been remarkable, and has enabled community members to voice their opinions online as well as directly to elected officials. I am also pleased to see the initiative the Toronto Masqueraders Association took to conduct a masquerader satisfaction survey and compile qualitative feedback and look forward to reading their upcoming post-carnival report.  Collectively, in moving towards a collective goal of improving Toronto Carnival, I believe a participatory approach, whereby masqueraders and the community are engaged and their voices and experiences are considered, will be paramount. 

Although not a new concept, stakeholder engagement is a topic that may lead to much debate. Engaging in discussions on Toronto Carnival with friends, an underlying sentiment expressed by many were views of a heightened need for transparency. Perceptions of an “old boys club” where conversations were held and decisions were made behind a veil of secrecy, were comments that made me consider whether these viewpoints were shared beyond my circle of friends and held broadly by the Toronto public. This conversation with friends was one that I later reflected on when I tuned in to a radio interview that was held on Soca Therapy. Facilitated by Dr. Jay, a panel of speakers, including representatives from the FMC, TMBA and TMA provided a forum for stakeholders to discuss their sentiments of the challenges and successes that were visible within Toronto Carnival 2014. In listening to the panel, one point that surprised me was the view mentioned by Denise Herrera-Jackson, where she mentioned prior to the formation of the Toronto Masquerader Association; masqueraders were not previously engaged as stakeholders within the planning process. Though Denise later elaborated the current lens has broadened and reiterated the heightened the importance of the masquerader voice and engagement with the TMA, I was still somewhat surprised by the revelation that prior to 2013 masquerader perspectives and input was not proactively entwined within the planning considerations.

Solutions and Buy-In

Beyond being involved in radio interviews, it is my hope within the trajectory moving forward, transparency, communication and collaboration is utilized to ensure stakeholders are informed and are given the opportunity to actively participate within the planning process. Although I was happy hear within the Soca Therapy interview the incorporation of masquerader perspectives, I would suggest not only is it important for the masquerader voice to be heard and valued as stakeholders, but it is equally important for the voices of masqueraders to be taken into account and used to inform decisions made in the future. If after each year feedback is given, however the feedback is passively taken into account the following year, buy-in and confidence that adequate solutions will be implemented will be impacted. It is for this reason I believe the success of next year’s carnival and trust among masqueraders and patrons that adequate improvements will be made, will be closely linked to engaging them as stakeholders and collaboration in implementation of solutions.

Goals: Identifying Priorities, Activities and Solutions

Although I believe a collaborative effort which utilizes the expertise of various groups and individuals working towards a common goal is beneficial, I acknowledge difference in perspectives and priorities may arise.    An example I can recall over the summer that highlights, is an interview I heard on the My Data Bag show on CHRY 105.5 FM.  The panel of guests included, blogger and masquerader Karabana, in addition Karli, the mother of a young masquerader. Both Karli and Karabana highlighted their concerns related to security and safety, which was corroborated by the host, William Doyle-Marshall, however midway through the interview the host and co-host pointed out a major concern to be related to facilities and change rooms. Although some of the concerns and priorities highlighted as what should be addressed differed, the commonality among all participants was rooted in the desire to improve the carnival for masqueraders and patrons.  

When working towards a goal, and thinking about the activities or strategies that are needed to achieve a desired outcome, one tool which may be beneficial to use within the planning stage is the logic model. A logic model is a visual depiction of how activities relate to our outcomes. Illustrating an “if then” relationship, a logic model is intended to highlight the link between certain activity and the output or result that is anticipated. For example “if” we provide disseminate a public awareness campaign on Toronto Carnival “then” we expect for the general public to have a heightened awareness of the upcoming events. 

Based on what I have been reading on the suggestions and feedback posted on social media, I created a draft logic model on some of the activities proposed within an education campaign. This sample logic model is posted with the intention to stimulate thought and generate discussion about how activities link to the desired outcomes that are hope to achieved. Is there anything additionally that should be included? removed? considered?

The benefit of the logic model when multiple stakeholders are involved is that it fine tunes the discussion about the link between the activities and outcomes. Although at first there may be disagreement on how things link and whether certain activities will lead to certain outcomes, the process of creating a logic model allows for stakeholders to discuss their viewpoints while taking into account the assumptions and external factors that are being made. At the end of logic model process, the goal is to have a document that collectively all the stakeholders buy into as to how the components lead to a desired outcome. Although logic models are intended to highlight the link between the activities and outcomes, it is possible upon implementation the end result is not what was anticipated (i.e. unintended consequences).  In such cases, the utility of the logic model is being also able to refer back and identify what part of the process did not produce the results as planned.

What defines a successful Carnival?

With much discussion on the “how” to improve Toronto Carnival, it is equally important to think about “what” specifically defines success. If you were asked to define a successful carnival what sorts of indicators or variables come to mind?  As a planner/organizer, a successful carnival may be viewed as one that is well executed, enjoyable, incident free and generates revenue. As a masquerader a successful carnival may be viewed as a carnival that enables you to have fun and to play mas in a safe and secure environment. During a Soca Therapy show, panelist from the TMBA, FMC and TMA were asked to weigh in on this question, and provided insight that a successful carnival is one that educates, entertains and highlights cultural awareness.  

It was great to hear the various variables that define a successful carnival and value of cultural underpinnings. Nonetheless in defining success, one aspect that I felt was missing from the dialogue, in particular with respect to considering accountability, is how the various variables would be measured or quantified. It is difficult to really know the success or impact that is being achieved within Toronto Carnival, such as creating value, propelling change or enhancing experiencing without some form of evaluation. If for example success is defined as a carnival that educates and highlights cultural awareness, in response I would say this is great, however I would follow up by asking how that indicator would be evaluated or measured.

What exactly do I mean by evaluation? Program Evaluation is the systematic collection of information which is used to make judgments regarding value or effectiveness of a program or initiative and is used to inform decisions made in the future.  With Toronto Carnival 2014 being over, program evaluation could be used to assess whether the decisions and initiatives that were implemented this year, produced the desired outcomes or results that were planned. Although I am not aware of the evaluation strategies currently being used by the planners within Toronto Carnival, I would definitely encourage the use of tools such as surveys or focus groups as a tool to collect qualitative feedback from masqueraders and patrons. Using portable washroom facilities, as an example, this year the decision was made to introduce stand-alone facilities along the route as opposed to facilities placed on a band truck. Using program evaluation to assess effectiveness or success of the portable facilities from a quantitative perspective, an indicator of success would consider whether the number of portable facilities along the parade route were adequate. From a qualitative perspective obtaining the perspective of masqueraders who accessed the facilities and were able to provide feedback on the proximity, access and adequacy of facilities would be able to further highlight whether the new initiative was a success. 

Final Thoughts:

Over the past few months, it has become increasing apparent there are a lot of people and groups who are truly invested and committed to seeing Toronto Carnival become a phenomenal event. In response to wanting to be more involved, informed and active participants, over the past two years several new organizations and initiatives were established with the goal to improve Toronto Carnival and the masquerader and patron experience. With only two more months remaining in 2014, I look forward to seeing the great strides that can be made within Toronto Carnival 2015 through a collaborative effort.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Better to Play Mas

Hey Readers, 

Check out the new meme released from Save Toronto Carnival!

Stay tuned to their facebook page for more memes as well as updates from the initiative!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toronto Carnival Reflection Part #2

Hey Readers,

Quite some time has passed since my initial Toronto Carnival Reflection post and as such I hope everyone’s month of September is off to a great start. Toronto Carnival 2014 has definitely been a hot topic of debate and during the months of August and September I have noted excellent dialogue, developments and initiatives pertaining to improving the festival.  Similar to part 1, this reflection post is intended to touch upon the challenges pertaining to our carnival but also shift the focus to possible variables and interventions that could be considered when devising a solution. 

A Number’s Game? 

Tuning into several post carnival interviews broadcasted on local radio station CHRY, I was happy to hear commentary from various stakeholders on the successes and challenges of this year’s carnival. Within the interview on Dr. Jay’s Soca Therapy Show, a success that was mentioned was the increased number of registered masqueraders within bands and an example was provided of a band having upward to 4000 masqueraders. Though that is definitely an incredible accomplishment, a point that also struck me was the comparison made between the number of non-masqueraders and spectators. The number of masqueraders that participated this year in the Grand Parade was approximated to be in the range of 10,000 whereas the number of non-masqueraders and spectators was in the range of 1 million. With the stark difference in the number of masqueraders to non-masqueraders, my initial thought was I am not surprised crowd control is an apparent issue. Apart from storing this as a tidbit of information, the gradient in numbers in my opinion, warrants the question why? Why do the numbers of non-masqueraders outnumber the number of masqueraders so drastically? Is there anything that can be done to convert non-masqueraders or spectators to masqueraders? Or perhaps could it be seasoned masqueraders are transitioning back to being non-masqueraders and spectators? And of course, everyone’s favorite question when it comes to stormers, why is the preference to jump or cross the fence rather than play mas?  

In discussing solutions of how to promote the Grand Parade as display of cultural celebration and as an event that warrants the adherence of appropriate behaviors among non-masqueraders and spectators, many have voiced the need for increased public awareness. As mentioned within my part 1 post, I believe raising public awareness and education is definitely an important part of the equation.  I also believe, however, additional interventions and strategies will be needed. In addition to an awareness/education campaign, one thing comes to mind to incorporate is social marketing. What is social marketing? Broadly speaking, social marketing utilizes marketing concepts, such as Product, Place, Price and Promotion (the 4Ps), to influence behaviors with the aim of benefiting the greater social good. Let’s consider the following scenarios and the way the 4Ps and interventions derived from a social marketing approach could make a difference. 

Scenario 1: 

Picture a non-masquerader who opted to view the parade along the Lakeshore as opposed to within a designated VIP area. What does the environment look like? Well if this individual is standing along the Lakeshore portion, there is likely tall fences placed along the route. Now consider what impact could that fence have? On the one hand the fence’s intended purpose is to deter non-masqueraders from entering the parade route, inadvertently though the fence is also visual obstruction to those who would like to remain behind the fence to observe the parade.  Consider what happens to the non-masquerader on the outside as the day progresses and more non-masqueraders opt to not adhere to the fence and infiltrate the route. As you could imagine, viewing the parade from behind the fence becomes more and more difficult. Tired of being unable to see, the abiding non-masquerader decides to walk along the outside of the route with the only highlight being the possibility of running into family or friends. (as I have been told by my non-masquerader friend).  

Does this scenario sound appealing? How could social marketing make the behavior of staying behind the fence appealing? 

Reflecting on the scenario above from a social marketing perspective, I would consider Product. Product is a tangible object or service that is provided to support or facilitate behavior change. In trying to make the behavior to stay behind the fence more appealing to non-masqueraders, perhaps products the following may have an impact:

·         Placing monitor screens throughout the route which enable non-masqueraders to see parade from an unobstructed view from where they are standing. (Imagine going to a Beyonce concert, and due to your seat being far away it is somewhat challenging to see the stage. Looking up you think to yourself, thank goodness for these monitors. They are positioned to project closer images and ensure all attendees can enjoy the view wherever they are sitting). 

·         Placing promotional vendors and/or interactive entertainment placed along the outside of the route. (A driving force behind a non-masquerader infiltrating the route maybe due to feeling like he or she is missing out of the action. If an effort is made to make staying on the outside more appealing, perhaps more non-masqueraders will be inclined to stay off the route). 

 Photo Credit: C.S.

Scenario 2

It’s 3:00pm and the procession of the bands is underway. As a band is preparing to cross the stage, there is an impending concern regarding the number of non-masqueraders that are infiltrating the route. Creating a challenge of congestion and a visual eye sore for judges and paying patrons in VIP areas, there is a sense of urgency to secure the “stage”.  Although the anticipation to cross the stage was high, the storming within the stage area causes many masqueraders to feel disappointed and question whether to play mas again next year. 

Does this scenario sound appealing? Could social marketing be used to make the stage more appealing for masqueraders and apparent to non-masqueraders? 

Reflecting on the scenario above from a social marketing perspective, I would consider Place.  The place component of social marketing takes into consideration where and when the target audience would perform the behavior or access the product or service. With place, consideration is given to what could be done to make the experience more convenient and pleasant for participating individuals performing the behavior.

Using the scenario above as the example, let’s consider the stage area within Toronto Carnival from an environmental context. From the perspective of a non-masquerader or someone who was unfamiliar with Toronto Carnival, do you think they would know where and when the stage presentation is occurring? My guess is probably not, because visually the stage is an open road. A non-masquerader or spectator who is unaware of the competition aspect of the parade may question, what makes this “stage” portion of the Lakeshore that much different from the section 50 meters back. In addition to raising public awareness on Toronto Carnival, we may additionally want to consider the following: 

·         Incorporating an elevated stage may provide the visual cue to non-masqueraders that the area is prohibited, in addition to give masqueraders the opportunity to showcase their costumes with minimal disruption. An elevated stage would make it quite difficult for a non-masquerader to infiltrate the space, particularly if security was positioned to secure the area. 

·         With respect to the VIP areas, positioning the cabana and vip areas near the judging stage to ensure that masqueraders are in their sections and that the view is visually appealing. 

Toronto Revellers did a great job in my opinion by factoring Place with respect to servicing their masqueraders. Being the first band to hit the Lakeshore, masqueraders were encouraged to meet at the assembly area at 7am. Taking into account the early meet up time, the band offered a “J’ourvert Breakfast” to help get masqueraders nourished, and ready for the road. Although waking up was probably a challenge, offering a breakfast to masqueraders may have made the behavior easier or more appealing to masqueraders to fulfil. 

Scenario 3:

After attending Toronto Carnival and observing all the action from the sidelines, a young woman and her friends decide they want to play mas next year. Doing research into costume prices, and noting the backline and frontline range from $150 to over $900, they quickly realize playing mas may pose a financial challenge. Being out-of-town masquerader having to factor in travel, accommodation fetes, the time to pick up costumes from the mas camps, the group was hoping an adequate alternative would be available. 

This scenario is of a non-masquerader who wants to play mas, but may be unable to access or affordability. How could social marketing be taken into consideration? 

Reflecting on the scenario above from a social marketing perspective, I would consider Price.  Within social marketing the Price component strives to decrease the cost or barriers to perform the desired behavior. Price is not limited to monetary considerations but also factor in costs such as time.  Referencing scenario 3, the price of costumes may be a monetary concern for non-masqueraders, who may be willing to participate formally if an alternative inexpensive option were available. Alternatively, in terms of the cost of time, many masqueraders this year voiced challenges of being able to locate an entrance to meet their band and as such missed the stage.  Here are some options of interventions that incorporate price:

·         Offering a cost friendly Las Lap t-shirt band which would cross the stage after all the mas bands and steel pan bands have made their way down the route. Making pre-registration and on-site registration available, the opportunity is provided to non-masqueraders to become t-shirt masqueraders on the day of the parade and deters the overused phrase “You Should Have Bought A Costume”. A Las Lap band may also promote congregation within a designated area as opposed to along the route which creates congestion.

·         With many masqueraders being social media savvy, the use of technology should be incorporated. The incorporation of an interactive map that illustrates entry points, in addition to updates as to which band is crossing the stage may be a great way to reduce the cost of time and keep masqueraders and spectators informed  with up to date information

Last but not least of the 4Ps is Promotion. Let’s consider the following scenario. 

Scenario 4:

As part of the communication strategy, promotional material is disseminated online with the goal to highlight the upcoming events within the Toronto Carnival Festival. Though the information is well crafted and shared broadly to an audience interested in the festival, each year there is concern over non-masqueraders who do not respect the Grand Parade. 

Let’s Face it, Stormers ruin the parade. What interventions and communication strategies should be used to deter it?

As mentioned within my part 1 reflection post, it is important to ensure the communication messages and methods used to disseminate the information, not only reach the target population (ie. Stormers) but also convey the desired behavior we would like them to adopt. Knowing who the target audience is and their associated characteristics is important, and often requires background work such as retrospective qualitative data collection or surveys. Collectively, I believe there is benefit in knowing the communication initiatives are being targeted to the intended audience, especially in situations where behavior change is the goal.  

This wraps up Part 2 of my Toronto Carnival Reflection. Although the scenarios above highlight some of the challenges within our carnival, they were used to serve as an example of how social marketing techniques could be incorporated in determining a solution. Defining solutions is a task that will require collective effort, collaboration and buy-in from stakeholders. In part 3 of my Toronto Reflection post I plan to talk about this as well as evaluation.  (As a side note- I promise part 3 won’t take as long to post. I’m nearly done my final draft :). 

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to leave any comments below. I would love to hear your feedback! 

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