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30 Jul 2014

No More Award Shows!

Are you tired of the increasing amount of galas, brunches and award shows?

Now these are fund-raising ideas that have really had their day, literally. These award shows started first appearing during the 1960/70’s. The intent was to recognize individuals who excelled in their profession and reached unprecedented heights in their careers. Given the intense racism faced in the workplace at the time and the lack of support, these events provided validation, encouragement and much needed support for these newly-arrived immigrants fighting to make a life in this new land. So of course, who would be against people gathering to celebrate their own achievements? Why shouldn’t that still happen? Well, the truth is, there are just better things to do and focus on. It’s time we get with the times rather than remain captive to old ones.

For one thing, there are better and more efficient ways to make money. There’s something called the Internet and people are using it for crowd funding projects to raise millions of dollars, sometimes overnight!

Think about the traditional dinner fundraiser. How many people do you have planning that event? How many hours are they volunteering for it? Let’s say there are 30 people putting in 15 hours, could you not ask these same people to fundraise $500 each ($15,000)? How long is that going to take for one person to ask ten friends for $50 or 25 friends for $25? It won’t take 15 hours. You’re living in the age of innovation. There’s nothing innovative about a dinner.

Secondly, why give someone an award for just having a good job? They’re supposed to have a good job! More importantly, in this day and age, if you’re rising in the ranks of the company you better be positioning yourself to take it over, otherwise regardless of title-you’re expendable. Thirty years ago, being a high-ranking employee meant something. In 2014, that same person can be easily replaced. If we review past recipients who got an award for this reason, I’m sure the majority of them have left the position they received an award for. Should they get another award at their new placement? What for?

Thirdly, these awards are blocking more significant/relevant projects from being funded. I have first hand knowledge of projects to assist young, single black fathers and children that are being denied funding because the bank is committed to funding an award show or a brunch. There are organizations in our community seeking funding to build million dollar facilities to create entrepreneurship opportunities for our youth, day care and parenting programs for community members, business incubators, senior citizen programs and all of these are being blocked for a small segment of our community to go out for an evening? Our priorities are all wrong and it’s an open secret. Imagine if you were in charge of sponsorship at a bank seeing proposals from other communities for recreational centres, buildings, youth employment, etc. and from the Black community… another brunch/dinner, it’s embarrassing!

What is equally embarrassing is that a month ago we were electing a new Premier for Ontario and where were the elite among the Black community? Were they rallying behind one candidate? Were they pressing issues of concern to each candidate? Were they out in the community promoting voter participation? No, they were at yet another award show with three days left in the election smiling for the camera. Is giving an award to a person who has 15 others on their shelf a priority over a provincial election?

Don’t get me wrong, they are nice events, it’s great to be recognized for one’s accomplishments, I enjoy myself when I am there, but we don’t have time to play Cinderella anymore. So please people, lets keep the awards to a minimum. We need to give our community greater things to be proud of than individual accomplishments. The times we live in demand group effort, that risk be rewarded and ideas be nurtured and developed quickly.

A dinner, brunch or Gala is not risky but symbolic of complacency. By their very existence they set a low benchmark for what our collective efforts can accomplish. It’s time for our collective accomplishments to take precedence, to have events reflective of the times and to take risks.

Unless otherwise expressed, the views expressed in the opinion column are not endorsed by the editors or publishers of ByBlacks.com


Read 2777 times Last modified on Saturday, 11 October 2014 14:10
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Rob Small

Rob Small is a Toronto based artist and community organizer.

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