May 2000 (Find
more fotos at Zing.com)
|Port cities like Santa Cruz add the spice of multicultural exposure creating a more worldly culture with rich textures.|
Tenerife’s lavish Carnival traditions have taken the best elements from Brazil, the Caribbean, Latin America, Spain and Africa to produce a spectacular season of joy which proudly claims it is as good as it gets. Actually, in modesty, they will allow that Rio Carnival may be #1, but they are a close second.
As borders dissolve, the impetus for new cultural initiatives seeking to recognize and promote the “cultural heritage” of great people’s festivals grows. The greater interest of City government and institutions in the health and prestige of their people’s event was much in evidence at this FECC convention which counted 8 Lord Mayors among its 200 plus participants.
One of the largest and most spectacular Carnivals in Europe belongs to Viareggio a seaside resort on the Northwest coast of Italy known for its giant paper mache float parades on the four consecutive Sundays before Ash Wednesday. The long time FECC member along with most of the FECC – Italy membership had split to form its own group. In addition, the cradle of the original Carnivals 2100 years ago, Patras Greece wished to found a new Carnaval group with fellow Carnavals on the Adriatic Sea. While many reasons were cited, it was clear that new funding opportunities becoming available for collaborative cultural initiatives from the growing European Union (EU) was the major impetus behind the splinters.
The best evidence was an extraordinary FECC Presidium session that needed to consider over sixty measures submitted by member Cities, Carnaval clubs and individuals.
“A lot of amendments have been tabled here. Common interest must be primal. I repeat I am sure we will enter the new millennium prosperously” said President Henry van der Kroon as the session concluded. Still many individual members were not so sure as they prepared for critical votes at the upcoming General Assembly.
Charismatic, energetic and the father Henry van der Kroon is a larger than life leader with a great passion for instilling the respect and adoration Carnavals deserve as special cultural heritages. Much of this role is ceremonial, requiring constant travel to Carnavals throughout Europe and the Americas. President van der Kroon is a natural as Carnaval emperor wearing the distinctive FECC uniform and jewels with the unique pointed white cloth hat which best resembles a royal crown. President Hank’s presence can change media coverage from a short announcement to a front-page photo and the FECC logo is proudly displayed on the dozens of Carnaval brochures brought by delegates.
His downtown Santa Cruz de Tenerife is bustling with new civic improvements, a new theatre, streetcar line, roadway tunnel and new ornate paving to compliment colonial architecture, wide plazas with fountains and dramatic sculptures. The streets gently slope to the port offering exhilarating views.
The Tenerife Carnaval
GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Foundation versus Cities
Proposal from 10 members to move individual membership out of the 1 vote (Cities receive 20 votes =“A” membership) “C” category to a new “D” category with no power to speak and vote in Official meetings. “
Ton van Meerveld, the new FECC President of the Netherlands was the lone forceful speaker against the prior resolution---it had passed overwhelmingly. It required at least one “A” membership for a national section and would most impact Holland where a few locally oriented clubs had dominated the FECC for years.
Following acrimonious comments from the German delegation President van der Kroon (who pointed out that his name was not on the controversial proposal) suggested a compromise where individuals could create a membership with rights equal to City membership. Manfred Supe, former International Board Member speaking for the recently deceased FECC-Germany President, rejected the concept saying
“ the issue is making individuals second class members.”
He asked all members to recall their promise to uphold the bylaws of the organization and that this change was an attack on the very foundation of the union and would likely split the group.
Leif Hallberg from Norrköping Sweden whose many years as FECC VP of Conventions put him in best position to gauge the feeling of members in the room expressed hesitation for the measure. This would be the most favorable comment heard.
Most convincing was 15 year member Dr. Heriette Dorion-Sébéloué of Paris and Guyana whose color photo had graced the cover of El Dia ( www.eldia.es ) following the opening ceremonies. She spoke articulately in French, one of the 4 allowed languages. Speaking twice as the rules of order allowed she asked for more careful consideration of a change that might break apart the organization. Little feedback from members had been solicited prior to the vote.
“While it is true the name of the organization ends with Cities it begins with foundation and the unique place Carnavals held as people’s festivals was being attacked. “ she said
Let the record show the measure was defeated with no votes in favor.
All agree that greater professionalism is the future of the FECC, yet its mission is not to become a trade association serving the needs of festival producers. Also the fundamental of healthy competition between Cities and clubs is going to remain as long as there is that special passion for Carnaval which can approach religious fervor at times.
Patras Greece, home of the original Carnaval and the first six FECC conventions wishes to lead a new Carnaval organization. Victoria Agelopoulou and Vaugleis Politj from the Carnaval have come to ask the blessing which is not going to be forthcoming. They offer to foster dialogue with two other giant float Carnavals which charge admission, Nice France and Viareggio. Vaugleis who commands the largest float hanger in the world believes his initiative will mean more for everyone. These are indicators of an organization with a great future.
The next FECC Convention will be in St. Petersburg Russia in June 2001 and feature the Carnaval itself. Follow the countdown at www.Carnaval.com/FECC or www.carnaval.com/russia for more information.
Carnaval.com will be covering the historic 21st St. Petersburg Carnival Conference. We were also at the 17th Reunion in Aruba