4 min

Capital Pride declares festival a success

Other details remain unclear, including protocol for new Pride memberships

Capital Pride chair Tammy Dopson, left, stands with Christine Leadman during a consultation meeting in 2014. Credit: Adrienne Ascah

Capital Pride is declaring its 30th anniversary festival a success that brought more than 110,000 people out to celebrate.

Tammy Dopson, chair of Capital Pride, says the festival’s success was significantly helped by strong partnerships with the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), the City of Ottawa and major sponsors like TD and Loblaws.

“Thanks to community support and our sponsors, the festival made a healthy surplus this year,” Dopson says.

When asked for a ballpark figure on the “healthy” surplus, Dopson says she can’t disclose a number at this time.

“We’re not releasing it at this time because we’re still undergoing our audit,” she says. “We’ve hired obviously a company to do an audit, then we submit our financials to the city. The results, if you will, will be a matter of record because as a not-for-profit they do have to be disclosed . . . at some point and time.”

Although Dopson talked to Daily Xtra in March 2015 about running Capital Pride like a business, she says the organization is actually a registered not-for-profit.

“When I referred to ‘run like a business,’ [I meant] we were going to give it more structure,” Dopson says. “I don’t want to say as opposed to [the previous Capital Pride’s membership-based model] because I think in the past there was probably a time when there was more structure. I just think there was possibly a breakdown of that structure as the years progressed.”

In the wake of the previous Pride organization’s bankruptcy, Dopson spearheaded a new organization partnered with the Bank Street BIA. Now that Capital Pride is operating under a surplus, festival planning has already begun for next year, she says.

“[The surplus] has allowed us to retain key operations staff so that the organization can continue to build on its success throughout the year,” she says. “Festival producer Joanne Hughes and sponsorship lead Brodie Fraser will return for the 2016 festival. With their efforts and that of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), strategic planning for the 2016 Ottawa Capital Pride festival is already under way.”

Dopson declines to comment on whether or not that means Hughes and Fraser will be paid throughout the year.

“I’m not sure we have to disclose that information at this time in that that’s personal contractual information,” she says.

Hughes came on board in late June after Mauricio Olivares, Capital Pride’s former festival producer, resigned after only a month on the job. 

In the midst of community concerns about Capital Pride’s inclusivity, some community members suggested the role of festival producer should go to an out queer or trans person.

“I think everyone’s assuming [Hughes]’s a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, which is not necessarily anyone’s assumption to make in that that’s not a disclosure that we’ve made nor that she has made either,” Dopson says.

When asked if that means Hughes is LGBT, Dopson says being queer or trans isn’t a job requirement for Capital Pride’s festival producer.

“It’s not a requirement, so we didn’t ask for somebody’s LGBTQ credentials when it came to applying for the festival job,” she says. “In other words, it wasn’t relevant to doing the job well, no more than it should be relevant in any job, if you think about it. It would be discriminatory for us to say you can’t do this job unless you’re LGBTQ.”

Although the 2016 festival is almost a year away, Dopson says the board didn’t see a reason to look at other candidates for next year since they’re happy with Hughes.

“The board decided that Joanne had done an incredible job and we made the decision that we would continue her contract,” Dopson says. “I think when you have somebody who does an excellent job it’s a worthy [decision] to keep them.”

In the next few years, Capital Pride aims to “expand and diversify” its programming, particularly around education, the arts and local heritage, she says.

Capital Pride will also hold an annual general meeting in the new year — possibly late February 2016 — which won’t be open to the public, Dopson says.

“It would only be open to membership and directors,” she says. “It’s not a public event, but we will keep everyone incredibly informed.”

When asked how a person can become a member of Capital Pride, Dopson says she can’t share that information at this time.

“I’m not able to say what the protocol is for new membership or new directors at this point and time because that’s still being developed,” she says. “We’ve been pretty clear about that throughout the year in that the organization is still being formed.”

Concurrently setting up a new organization and planning a festival means that only general bylaws and policies have been formed, Dopson says.

“We can give [the community] more information in the new year . . .  at this point and time we’re still wrapping our operations and our numbers and everything from the current year,”
 she says.

Dopson adds that until the organization has put its policies in place, community members can watch Capital Pride’s social media to keep abreast of new developments.

“I’ve said this to several people: keep an eye on our Facebook page because there will be announcements about these matters,” she says. “If someone’s interested in being part of operations, the board or membership, we will be giving more clarity on that matter, but it will be a different setup than the previous organization.”