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Capital Pride faces staffing changes

New festival producer, parade coordinator taken in

Joanne Hughes, founder and former producer of Ottawa Lumière Festival, joins Capital Pride as its festival producer. Credit: Joanne Hughes

With just over a month until the 30th anniversary festival, Joanne Hughes has stepped in as festival producer.

Mauricio Olivares, Capital Pride’s former festival producer, resigned on May 22 after only a month on the job. Although his replacement wasn’t announced until July 2, Tammy Dopson, Capital Pride’s chair, says Hughes had been on the job for a couple of weeks before the announcement.

As the founder and former producer of the Ottawa Lumière Festival, Hughes is a great fit to lead the operations team, Dopson says.

“She comes with a great amount of experience and her personality is a great fit,” Dopson says. “Someone who is willing to come in and work with a vision already in place and with a vehicle that’s already in motion, so to speak, is what we needed and Joanne’s very good at that.”

Dopson says that Hughes is focused on planning the festival and not speaking to media. In a press release, Hughes says that, her “goals for this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations are to ensure that the festival is financially viable, and that it is inclusive and welcoming to all members of the rainbow community.”

In addition to a new festival producer, Dopson mentions two other staffing changes. Tova Larsen, who was the parade coordinator for the previous Capital Pride organization and rehired for the same position, is noticeably absent from the operations committee listed on Capital Pride’s website. Dopson says that Larsen’s new day job made her too busy to continue in that role, and that Genevieve Bilodeau-Bouchard has taken over as parade coordinator.

Larsen confirmed with Daily Xtra that her departure was due to her busy work schedule and that she’s still helping the festival as a consultant.

Shawn Robley, who spoke to Daily Xtra in April about being on the community advisory committee (CAC), also confimed he has left Capital Pride due to work commitments.

“These things are going to happen moving forward,” Dopson says. “No one has stepped away because of any kind of acrimony, but these changes are going to happen over seven months.”

Dopson also addressed a recent Velvet Studio article that cited unnamed Capital Pride sources as saying parade route negotiations with the city weren’t going well.

“There’s no feud going on,” she says. “It’s actually been going awesome with the city. We have proposed a huge change and the city is literally doing everything it can to help us.”

Dopson says Capital Pride is committed to bringing the festival back to the Village.

“Truthfully speaking, it is a slow process because we’re reinventing the wheel a little bit here,” she says. “The parade route is somewhat based on the same dynamic as Toronto’s in the earlier days when it was basically driving all the momentum back to the Village. That is our intent. We need to support our Village better.”

The city can’t sign off on a new parade route without sufficient study, Dopson says.

“This is our first time at the helm of this event and we’re basically asking for a huge amount of change,” Dopson says. “Not only are we creating a new organization but we’re also creating an entirely new parade route and bringing the festival back to Bank Street. That’s a lot of change in one year, so things are not going to move fast when you’ve basically put forth this much change, but we have no complaints about the city.”

Once the parade route is approved, an announcement will be made, Dopson says, adding that Capital Pride plans to have a media launch at the end of the month.

On a final note, she calls out for more volunteers.

“Volunteers are needed and if people want this to move forward, they better start signing up on our volunteer list,” Dopson says.