2 min

A leap forward for Pride Toronto

Pride elects five new board members and boasts a big surplus

The new Pride Toronto board. from left: Chad Simon, Susan Gapka, Paul Saguil, Evan Dean, Kerry Bell, Francisco Alvarez, Roy Mitchell, Lauryn Kronick, Mark Smith, Shelly Craig, Sean Hillier. Missing, Kent Churn. Credit: Andrea Houston

Pride Toronto elected five new board members at its annual general meeting Oct 25, three of whom are women, and the organization is finishing the year with a surplus of more than $300,000.

The new board members include event planner and entertainer Kerry Bell, who moved to Canada last year from Jamaica; Accenture partner Kent Churn; social worker and University of Toronto professor Shelly Craig; communications professional, journalist and grassroots community organizer Lauryn Kronick; and lawyer Paul Saguil.

The new members add much-needed gender and ethnic diversity to the board.

“I feel really proud right now to be part of such a diverse and talented team working to further human rights for this wonderful community,” Bell says.

About 70 people attended the meeting. Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu says it was “incredibly gratifying” to see so many engaged community members take part in the process.

“I am looking forward to working with the new board members, as well as the existing ones,” he says. “They bring new energy. You want a good balance of community perspective, as well as skills and expertise, and we went a long way to achieving that tonight.”

The board also released its audited financials, showing a surplus of $367,316. This is a big change from 2010, which was one of the “worst years in PT’s history.”

Beaulieu says the stable financial position was a key goal for the board as it gears up its planning for WorldPride in 2014.

Outgoing board member Daniel Knox plans to stay on temporarily as treasurer while the board transitions and a new member fills the position. Knox says the board saved a significant amount of money on office and administration costs.

“Living within our means has been the theme for the financial department for the last couple years,” he says. “We did spend some money on WorldPride. As you know, we are planning two festivals this year.”

Pride Toronto grants have decreased in 2012, particularly from the provincial government, which is one reason having a surplus is important. Meanwhile, the threat of losing the $123,807 grant from the City of Toronto looms over the festival each year.

Recently, city funding has come with strings attached and a demand that Pride exclude the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid because some city councillors oppose its message. Knox says having the surplus puts the board in a comfortable position, offering the possibility to decline funding and maintain Pride’s core principles.

“While there seems to be restrictions and strings attached, so far that relationship [with the city] has been pretty good,” Beaulieu says. “It’s not a question of whether or not we will ever need the funding. There is a role for the city to play in Pride. As a community, we have built a relationship over the past 40 years. It’s important. Pride benefits the city.

“Having said that, if it’s absolutely necessary, having a buffer is helpful if we are ever met with the circumstance that funding is no longer available to us. I think people are very proud of having a large and diverse Pride festival.”

Pride also chose its theme early for the 2013 festival in order to get a head start on planning for next year. “Super Queer” won by a landslide. The other options were “Come Together” and “The World Is Coming.”

To choose the theme for WorldPride in 2014, chair Francisco Alvarez says the board will launch a social media campaign, beginning Oct 31. The shortlist includes “Bring it! Rise Up! Rainbow Revolution” and “Reflections of Pride – Stonewall 45.”

“We want to open it up to the world. So we will be turning to social media to choose the 2014 WorldPride theme,” Alvarez says.

He says the board continues to actively search for volunteers to take part in WorldPride planning, including the recruitment of a WorldPride coordinator in November.
  Pride Toronto 2012 Audited Financials Pride Toronto 2012 Annual Report