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Capital Pride receives offer of support

BIA says it is open to partnering with the floundering festival

Christine Leadman, right, stands with Tammy Dopson, a former Capital Pride sponsor, at Capital Pride‚Äôs public consultation in October. Credit: Adrienne Ascah

The Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA) is extending a hand to Pride.

Christine Leadman, executive director of the BIA, has been attending the Capital Pride meetings, including the Dec 17 AGM where the membership voted to declare bankruptcy. On Dec 29, Leadman plans to meet with the BIA board to discuss offering a partnership to the organization that will take over the Pride festival.

“The BIA has been partnering with the Pride group for the last couple of years,” she says. “We’re sort of between a rock and a hard place looking at how we can help out because 2015 is the 30th anniversary and we’re just looking at possibly approaching them to partner with them. We have a lot of infrastructure in place, and we do have funds available to work with them to get the 2015 festival sort of going.”

When the Capital Pride membership rejected the resolution to have the interim board become a nominations committee, it left a power vacuum.

“What we would like to do is extend our hand out to the community, to say that we understand that you’re going to be going through this transition and starting a new board, but if there is to be a celebration of the 30th anniversary in 2015 they’re already behind the eight ball in terms of organizing,” Leadman says. “We’re thinking this might be a good time to partner, opening the door to community members who are interested in seeing the festival go forward while the organization is being structured.”

Leadman stresses the BIA’s interest is in the Pride festival. In terms of Pride’s corporate or organizational structure, from its mission statement to governance model, that would be up to the new organization and its members, she says.

“The model that we’re looking at is like an advisory committee or a festival committee that’s sole focus is building the festival for 2015, which would have us and the community at the table,” Leadman says. “I’m just hoping that this will be seen as a positive step to the community — that they’re not out there by themselves. We certainly feel that it’s a significant city event. Centretown has been the home to the Village, and we would like to continue the growth that [Pride’s] seen over the last two years.”

The BIA’s involvement could also increase the chances of the Pride festival getting city funding, she says.

“I would go to the city with a solid proposal, built with the community to say, ‘Here’s the plan, here’s the structure,’” Leadman says. “I think if there’s reassurance to the city that [there’s] a restructured festival with the BIA behind it that we would get the kind of buy-in that we would need in order to have the festival take place in 2015.”

Should a partnership take place, there’s already approximately $20,000 in the BIA’s budget for Pride funding, but the board could potentially make more money available for the festival, Leadman says. The infrastructure in place for Glow Fair, from staging to audiovisual, would also be helpful for organizing the Pride festival.

Once she’s received a directive from the BIA’s board at the planned Dec 29 board meeting, Leadman says she’s keen to discuss a Pride partnership as soon as possible.

“Having been to all the meetings, it’s very fractured, so what we want to be is the glue,” she says. “We’re here, we’re ready to step up, we’re ready to get involved, and it’s not something that we can do alone. We need the community at the table, and I think there are plenty of people who are truly interested in seeing a 2015 Pride festival take place and be successful.”