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
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.
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:
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).
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Let’s Face it, Stormers ruin the
parade. What interventions and communication strategies should be used to deter
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!
Did You Know.. In the few weeks since Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2014, an initiative called Save Toronto Carnival has been able to mobilize and arrange a meeting with Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc and the community to discuss the Toronto carnival.
The meeting will be held on Thursday November 27th from 7-9pm at Toronto City Hall. More details will posted as they become available.
Until then, stay engaged and informed by tuning into the #SaveTorontoCarnival Facebook page.
Below are memes that were released as part of public awareness campaign.
Wouldn't you agree playing mas is the wiser (and more appropriate) option than to squeeze or jump through a fence?
With the dust settling from Toronto Carnival, many voices
and questions have been raised regarding this year’s parade. Critiques pertaining to the parade route, the
issue of stormers, and procession of the bands were highly scrutinized; however
in actuality have been longstanding topics of debate prior to 2014. Rather than
reiterate the criticism, I believe it is more advantageous to shift the focus
and priority to determining what can be done to propel improvement and
solutions in the future. Within this post, the issue of storming and
communication strategy to deter this behavior will be discussed.
The Uphill Battle: Information and Behavior Change
As mentioned by many sites, there is a heightened need to
emphasize the cultural underpinnings and respect for the mas displayed within
carnival. I wholeheartedly agree and commend organizations like the Toronto
Masqueraders Association and media sites such as Karabana Blog and Trinidad
Carnivals for their commitment to advocacy and raising public awareness. Drawing
from my experience within healthcare, one limitation I observe with the
provision of information, is that despite one’s efforts it may not necessarily
drive behavior change. Consider an everyday example: while watching a television
program, a commercial comes on that describes the benefit of exercise and
nutrition as way to prevent diabetes. Bearing
in mind only the information that is presented within the commercial, do you
think you will feel motivated to exercise or eat healthier? Possibly not if you
feel this commercial does not apply or is targeted to you; and even more so
unlikely if you currently enjoy or prefer the status quo of being sedentary and
inactive. Along the same lines, using the issue of storming as an example,
although information is provided to the general public regarding Toronto
Carnival, I believe if information on respecting the mas is not also targeted
to the audience that engages in this behavior, changing the status quo (i.e. jumping
the fence) will continue to be an uphill battle.
and Cultural Sensitivity:
Apart from the goal to raise awareness and drive attendance
to the events taking place during the three week Toronto Carnival festival, I
would suggest the goal should also include promoting enhanced cultural
competency and cultural sensitivity within audiences.In looking at the terms cultural competency
and cultural sensitivity, the commonality is the word culture. Culture is
defined as the “values, norms and
traditions that affect how individuals of a particular group perceive, think,
interact, behave, and make judgments about their world.” So what does cultural have to do with being
competent and sensitive? Although several definitions apply to the term
cultural competency depending on the context in which it is used, one
definition of the term is that it is the congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together as a system, agency or
among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professionals to
work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Despite the above definition
being quite the mouthful, where I see and draw the relevancy to the issue of
stormers is to the point on congruent behaviors within a cross-cultural
situation. Generally speaking, although Toronto Carnival is a
celebration of Caribbean culture, it is held within a city and attended by
patrons who are diverse and as such inadvertently the parade occurs within a cross-cultural
situation. Turning our attention to the term cultural sensitivity, this is
defined as the knowledge, awareness and
acceptance of other cultures. Collectively, the reason why I think it is
important to incorporate these terms within the lens that we view Toronto
Carnival, is I believe the goal is to not only heighten knowledge and
awareness, but to also to promote the adoption of shared attitudes, behaviors
and supportive policies that preserve the essence of Toronto Carnival as a
celebration of culture within not only masqueraders but among non-masqueraders
and law enforcement.
Targeted Interventions and Engagement
How then can we inform, raise awareness and effect behaviors
pertaining to participation in Toronto Carnival and in particular the Grand
Parade? In considering the delivery of information through social media,
newspapers and magazines, my personal observation is although phrases such as Jump
on de Road or Feel the Vibe, highlight the festival as a celebration of
culture, it does not promote the desired behavior of stormers to respect the
mas or allude to the parade being in part a competition. Although I am not
suggesting I have concrete answers as to how to solve the issue of stormers, I
do believe the possible solution lies in the combination of interventions that
include providing information, use of products such as fences and wristbands,
incorporation of policies and enforcement and participatory engagement from multiple
Apart from effective management, organization and inclusion
of initiatives that ensure the parade runs smoothly, I do believe there is
utility in designing targeted messages and interventions to deter storming
among the audience that participates in this behavior.But who is the target audience or more simply
who storms? If we define a stormer as non-masquerader that enters the parade
route, one intervention could be to incorporate signage posted on fences which
advises one to stay behind the barrier. As a realist however, I know posting a
sign to stay behind the fence, would be unlikely to stop a non-masquerader who
is equipped with wire cutters, especially when the current status quo (ie. ignoring
the sign and passing through or jumping the fence) is deemed as acceptable in
his or her eyes. Well what about the incorporation of security as a secondary
intervention, for those who don’t adhere to the signs? Although I think this is
great and also necessary, its limitation is that it is a reactive intervention
rather than proactive intervention.This
leads me back to thinking about the question of who the target audience is and perhaps
warrant the need to define stormers with more specificity. Retrospectively, I
acknowledge it would be quite difficult to collect information on the number of
stormers that were on the route, in addition to what were their
characteristics, however I cannot ignore the fact this type of information
could prove to be quite useful when trying to design and deploy messages that
are targeted to this audience.
Are we really reaching Stormers?
When evaluating the effectiveness of current strategies
(more on this topic later), one variable that should be considered is whether
there was a change or impact within the target audience, and the reasons why or
why not it occurred. When I consider information I post on The Collabo blog or
Facebook page, for example, I am aware that the audience that reads my blog is
likely interested in carnival and associated information on the parade and upcoming
events. I assume these readers already have connectivity or interest in the
information that is being shared, and as such they want to stay informed on the
new information pertaining to carnival. Do we however view stormers the same
way? Are stormers reading our blogs, visiting our Facebook pages or websites
for information? My guess is probably not. Regardless of how well the message
is constructed, if it is not delivered through channels that the target
audience is engaged with or exposed to, its effectiveness may be limited. This
leads me to suggest that if our intention is to provide information with the
aim to promote awareness of Toronto Carnival, and in addition promote cultural sensitivity,
competency and overall behavior change within stormers, the latter
communication and interventions should be delivered from a targeted
approach.If for example, the perception
is that a large proportion of stormers are males between the ages of 20-29,
perhaps one strategy to communicate messages to participate in playing mas,
and/or adhere to staying behind fences would be to have this information available
and accessible within locations that the target population visits (ie barber
shops) and incorporate information the audience values (ie the ratio of women
to men). Using an everyday example, think about the interventions and communication
strategy that has been used to deter driving and texting. Only a few years ago
this behavior was commonplace, however with the introduction of visual cues on
billboards on our the highways, the enforcement of fines, as well as the
delivery of messages that highlight the danger and potential implications, driving
and texting is becoming less of the norm.Perhaps addressing the issue of storming is similar in that it requires
a mix of communication strategies and interventions that are used to deter and
prevent this behavior.
As a summary of Part One of my Toronto Carnival Reflection, this
post was intended to highlight the relationship between the provision of information
and behavior change, in addition to encourage the inclusion of cultural competency
and cultural sensitivity as an underlying goal of communication strategies.
Stay tuned for Part Two of my Toronto Carnival Reflection,
where I plan to discuss the use of social marketing, evaluation and inclusion
of a participatory approach (bottom up and top down).
What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your opinions by posting a comment below or sending an email to the writer, Yinx, at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's carnival time in the City! On Saturday August 2nd, the Grand Parade of the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival took place the CNE and Lakeshore. Thousands of masqueraders donned in bright colorful costumes, feathers and intricate designs came out to play their mas and revel within the Toronto Bands. Stay tuned to the blog for my more detailed post on my reflection on Toronto Carnival.
Until then, to see pictures from the Grand Parade click here and here.
The King and Queen competition, is considered the first big event of the Scotibank Toronto Caribbean Carnival weekend. The outdoor event held this past Thursday at Lamport Stadium and was filled with spectators who came to support the showcase of elaborate mas created by Toronto Carnival Bands.
This year the audience was treated to a pre-show program which included Mas, Calypso and Steel Pan performances. Surprise performances from international soca and chutney artists such as KRich, Drupatee, JW and Blaze and Iwer George graced the grand stage during the half time intermission.
2014 Female Individual Winner Carol Tanis
2014 Male Individual Winner Mr Meggy
2014 King of the Bands Shane Mungal
2014 Queen of the Bands Joella Creighton
In case you missed the King and Queen competition, check out album1 and album2 on Facebook for pictures.
The pinnacle of the three week Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean festival is finally here! With so many sights and sounds to experience, here is information on some great events taking place during the week and weekend.
King & Queen Competition
Thu. Jul. 31, 2014 - from 7pm to 12am
Allan Lamport Stadium
The Allan Lamport Stadium becomes an outdoor theatrical
stage where the Kings and Queens of the bands along with individuals compete to
be the best of the best. They give the audience the opportunity to appreciate
the talent and artistic skill of the designers and costumer builders. The
Ontario Science Center continues to award a special prize for the best
environment use of material in a costume.
Jab Jab Jouvert
Carnival Friday August 1st, 2014 - 10:00 pm till 4:30 am
Outdoors @ Wilson Avenue Outdoor Arena - 1677 Wilson Avenue, Toronto (Jane & Wilson)
Jab Jab J’Ouvert is a night till morning event - full of fun and
straight from the islands of Grenada and Trinidad. Live entertainment
by: Talpree, Lava Man, Skinny Fabulous, Bunji Garlin, Fayann Lyonns,
Problem Child, JW & Blaze, ASA Banton, Mr Leggs, Tommy G, G-Bolo,
Plus a Special Female Guest.
Experience a night of Jab Jab fun with mud, paint, oil; 3
Water Trucks; 3 All-Access Bars; more than 12 different food and vending
areas; with a VIP Zone, Foam Zone, Dutty zone, Clean Zone and lots of
good times to start your Carnival in Toronto!
- $40 regular advance
- $50 Cool Zone / No wet or no dutty access!
- VIP - $60 - Includes - All access to cool zone & Food
and limited two drink tickets per person , Carnival Swag bag & Can b
nice Swag bags!
Sat. Aug. 02, 2014 - from 9:00am to 6:00pm
Exhibition Place & Lakeshore Blvd - Map
The marquee parade is the showcase of the Festival. After months of
preparation, masqueraders in colourful and striking costumes and steel pan
bands wine their way from Exhibition Place along a 3.5 kilometre stretch on
Lakeshore Boulevard. This performance of bejewelled masqueraders continues to
draw millions from all over the world to see the live performing street art
year after year. With opportunities for VIP seating in designated, controlled
areas, which will include upgraded seating, tents, and marketplace.
Carnival Saturday August 2nd, 2014 - Gate opens: 8:30 pm; Showtime: 12:30 am to 4:00 am Sharp
Outdoors @ Wilson Avenue Outdoor Arena - 1677 Wilson Avenue, Toronto (Jane & Wilson)
Summer Slamm 2014 with entertainment by: Bunji Garlin, Fayann Lyonns
and the Viking Band; Destra; Iwer George; Skinny Fabulous; Problem
Child; JW & Blaze; KI; Drupatee; Salsa / Latino performers; Major
Lazor DJ; Talpree; Lava Man; Plus Special Guest artist from Jamaica!
DJs : Marxman; DOC; Whitebwoy; G- Factory; plus special guest DJ Myles from Slam radio 100 in Trinidad
Hosts: American Superstars ; JW from Trinidad - Claudia Jordan From The USA
- $40 Early Birds
- $45 Regular Admission - more at the gate!
- Regular VIP $100: includes: Food; two Drinks and side Stage VIP access only!
- Ultra VIP Area - $150 includes: Unlimited food; limited
drinks - 4 drink tickets per costumer; Ultra VIP view; All access /
backstage access after the show! Meet & Greet with photo of your
favorite artist; receive a Carnival Swag Bag & Can b nice swag bag;
Posters and CDs for Ultra VIPs
- Presidential VIP Package: $500 for Family of 5 or more
includes: Unlimited food; 7 drink tickets per person; All access /
backstage access - Meet & Greet with artist; Photos; receive -
Carnival Swag Bag; Presidential View from Stage side
Special section catered with tables and waiter service!
Sun. Aug. 03, 2014 - 12:00 pm
The Carnival Island event is the fusion of popular Caribbean musical styles,
Calypso, Soca dance music and Indo Bhojpuri folk, Chutney. End your Scotiabank
Toronto Caribbean Carnival weekend on a high note at this family-friendly
An added bonus is tickets to many of the events can be purchased online at ticketgateway.com