The Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA) and a new community group have unveiled a proposal for a 2015 Pride festival.
The community group’s spokesperson, queer realtor Tammy Dopson, joined Christine Leadman, executive director of the BIA, at a press conference at Ottawa City Hall on Jan 15 to announce their proposal.
“The festival will partner with the BIA in that the BIA will have oversight over all the financials,” Leadman says. “In addition, we would provide the necessities in terms of office space, boardroom, meeting space and a place where record-keeping is in the central location.”
The BIA won’t be involved in the day-to-day planning of the festival but would assume formal responsibility for financial expenditures and reporting, she says.
“It felt great,” Dopson says of making the announcement. “Our message is a positive one. It’s not that we’re trying to disregard the past. We’ll certainly take lessons from the past, but we’re not going to focus on it nor be held hostage to it. We want to look forward. We want to move forward with Pride in its next stage.”
Dopson says she “cast a wide net” to get feedback from as many LGBT community members as possible and was pleased so many people came forward to share their ideas. While she stresses that everyone who participated in the group’s discussions did so as individuals, not as representatives of any organization, she points out there are a lot of familiar names among the people involved. Jay Koornstra, Amanda Ryan, Doug Saunders, Glenn Crawford, Gary Leger, Christopher Doyle, Morgan Veres, Brodie Fraser and many other community members were giving of their time and are passionate about Pride rising from its troubled past, Dopson says.
“I have to give kudos to Tammy and the group because they really must have worked a lot of long evenings to come forward with recommendations so quickly and professionally,” Leadman says.
The proposal also calls for a community advisory committee to set up an “effective governance model” and provide oversight for a new Pride organization as it transitions toward incorporation. Leadman stressed also that festival workers must be given adequate support and resources to avoid burnout.
While Somerset councillor Catherine McKenney has already expressed interest, a more formal meeting with her to unveil the group’s plans will take place later this month, Leadman says.
Other than expressing the intent to bring the festival back to Bank Street, the announcement did not include details about this year’s festival; instead, it focused on providing a framework that Leadman and Dopson say will provide the financial stability needed to attract sponsors in the wake of Capital Pride’s bankruptcy.
In fact, Dopson says, some sponsors have told her they’re interested in contributing more money than last year.
“Momentum’s going to be pretty strong,” she says. “The results of what we’re doing is the collective will of the people. They want this. It’s the 30th anniversary of a very proud community. It’s going to happen, and I think everyone wants to be part of it — they’re just looking for a vehicle to make it happen — but one that’s sustainable, and I think we’ve created this.”
The Jan 20 public meeting to discuss Pride’s future will still go ahead, but it’s unclear at this stage how attendees will respond to the proposal put forth by Dopson’s community group and the BIA.