WIADCA, We Need To Talk

Labor Day 2018

Oh WIADCA, what will it take?

The West Indian American Day Carnival Association (say that three times fast) is responsible for producing events throughout the summer that showcase our culture, culminating in the annual Labor Day parade in Brooklyn.  However, this year, it was glaringly obvious that many Brooklynites have chosen to avoid the celebration and are, in fact, questioning whether or not WIADCA needs to be dismantled.  Let me make this very clear, I DO NOT think we should remove WIADCA.  They have long-standing relationships with the city that would be difficult to replace.  They also are capable of putting on well organized events.  However, they need new blood and new ideas. 

Since the Association refuses to engage with anyone, let me anticipate their objections.

The older people enjoy our events.  Young people don’t know anything about the culture.

Well, let’s examine that.  If you look on social media (so, you know, WIADCA will never see it), there are many young people who want to be involved with planning and promoting events.  Panorama and Dimanche Gras have almost no young people in attendance.  Why?  It’s not promoted to them.  The flyers and schedules are posted on Facebook and the WIADCA website.  But, young people are mostly on Instagram and Snapchat.  Also, where’s all of the “media” footage.  Allow me to insert my personal gripe here:

I reached out to WIADCA two years ago about covering Brass Fest and Panorama and was told that I would have to PAY $250 to get a media badge.  I know others who’ve had similar experiences and were told that WIADCA has their own media people and so they don’t need additional coverage.  Okay.  Good luck with that.

People come to the events, so we’re clearly doing something right.

Here’s what you’re doing right, putting on the event.  Your marketing is terrible.  I attended Brass Fest last year and it was ridiculous that it was set up as a concert from the front to the back.  Having a few seats in a VIP section and allowing most of the venue to be standing room only would be better.  Young people (I’m including myself when I say that – don’t judge me) want to be able to dance when someone like Lavaman or Motto are on the stage.  It can’t be fun for the artistes to look out into the crowd and see a bunch of older people sitting down.  To paraphrase King David: it is not a fete in there, which is madness!

If you feel you could do it better, do it.

And there’s the rub.  We can’t.  WIADCA has the history and connections with the city to put on these big events and NOT have them shut down.  The Brooklyn Museum is a great outdoor space with enough distance from residences to avoid noise complaints.  The solution is not to oust current WIADCA members.  On the contrary, Carnival media people want to be part of promoting events and the West Indian Americans want to feel heard.  How else will we pass on the culture if you keep shutting people out?  To be quite honest, your committee is not listening to the community and it's insulting. 

Fine, so what do you suggest?

I’m glad you asked.  Have a town hall meeting.  Allow - no, encourage - the community to come out and voice their concerns and opinions, and LISTEN.  Listen to how many people want to support the events and make them bigger and also safer for patrons.  Listen to the people who have ideas on how to keep stormers out of the parade, how to promote the events you have throughout the summer that no one ever hears about, and how to include the young people so that they can feel pride in their culture.

In short, what you’re doing is not sustainable.  Having events with small turnout or making artistes perform to a stationary group of folks in chairs is not a good look.  Let the community help.  You are going to have to give up control in order to grow. 

Otherwise, RIP WIADCA.