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Mark Ruta – Carassauga chairman: “It is worth it”

Carassauga is a festival that, every year, brings the world to Mississauga. In 2019 we had the 34th edition happening, with 29 cultural pavilions showcasing their countries’ entertainment, food, art and history across 12 locations in Mississauga. This is Canada’s largest multicultural festival.
This week we interviewed the festival’s chairman, Mark Ruta, to know how it is like to be in the backstage of the event.

Milénio Stadium: What are the main challenges that you face when organizing events?
Mark Ruta: The most difficult part is getting all of the great ideas and putting them together to make one great festival. Our festival has a lot of moving parts. Last year we had 29 pavilions, 29 different countries being represented, and having them all be represented, using new ideas each year, that’s always a difficult part.

MS: Do you feel enough support to make these events possible?
MR: Yes of course. You know, there is always difficulty in finding volunteers. It’s getting harder and harder everyone would want to make money and work, but there’s also such a benefit of volunteering. Also, some of the difficulties are regarding the finances, making sure that you have the revenue to put on a festival for next year, and it’s always at the back of your mind how you will approach your sponsors, how to increase revenue sales of tickets food sales. Our pavilions continue, of course, working with the governments to get funding through grants.

MS: Is it difficult for the organization to cover the expenses for the festival?
MR: Usually, Carassauga is not for profits. So, we usually end up coming out just covering our costs and having enough to continue for the next year. When we budget, we like to look ahead at what our big expenses will be. Usually, that’s marketing and investing in programs that we do throughout the festival. So, we make sure that we have sponsors and funding for next year and that it will cover those expenses. The festival business, it can be quite profitable for vendors and people who are involved in the festival selling different products, or sponsors. But as an organizer we tend to come out pretty much at zero, that would be a successful year. Usually you end up losing money, because you have to put more into it to get those results.

MS: What is usually the most expensive part of the budget?
MR: One of the biggest expenses is advertising on radio, TV and now digital marketing. Another big budget line is having good entertainment, bringing them to Carassauga or any other festival is expensive, putting on a nice a nice stage and a nice production costs a lot of money. And, in general, all the logistics of putting on a festival: paying for facilities, for rentals of different equipment that you need. Also, things like fencing the area, like electrical expenses which do tend to be pretty expensive.

MS: In the end, do you feel like it is worth it? What motivates you?
MR: Yes, it is worth it. You know, being proud of your heritage, your culture, that’s really what continues our spirit. Seeing other people from around the province, from around the world. We’ve got visitors from Europe that come down to Carassauga! You know, seeing them have a good time and learning about other countries, different cultures, that really motivates us to continue and try and do something different every year and try to increase and bring more people, so that they can have that experience.

Telma Pinguelo


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