The 2009 Church Street Fetish Fair is going ahead as planned despite some early controversy over funding. The event — billed as “a celebration of the leather, fetish and fantasy communities” — was in danger of being scaled back or cancelled by organizers until the Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area (CWVBIA) provided extra funding.
At a CWVBIA board meeting on May 20 the nine board members present voted unanimously to increase the budget of the Fetish Fair to $45,000. At the beginning of the year the board approved $30,000, which was already an increase over last year’s budget figure of $25,000.
Fetish Fair executive director Cam Lewis says the real cost for the event has hovered around $45,000 for the past couple of years — $48,000 last year and $42,000 in 2007.
Late last year CWVBIA announced that it would be looking to lower costs associated with all its events. As a result the organization only increased its Fetish Fair budget by $5,000 over last year.
“Then we said, ‘Hold it,'” says Lewis. “Look at the costs over the last few years. Putting the Fetish Fair on on the same scale as the past with $30,000 is not reality. We wanted to see $45,000 in the budget.”
Lewis and his fellow organizers argued that a downscaled event would not be feasible.
“Fully funding the Fetish Fair was a no-brainer,” Lewis says. “After all, the Fetish Fair brings people to the village, elevates the gayness of the village, it drives business to [CWVBIA] members, it showcases local talent, and it is the second largest outdoor fair in the village. Only Pride is bigger.” According to Lewis 30,000 people attended last year’s Fetish Fair.
When the CWVBIA board did not initially approve the $45,000 budget, Lewis says he and his fellow organizers went into action, lobbying the board and area merchants. It worked.
“The board decided to increase the funding due to the tremendous response that we received from Church St merchants,” says Sam Ghazarian, chair of the CWVBIA board.
Where did CWVBIA get the extra money?
“At the [annual general meeting] $30,000 was approved for Nuit Blanche,” says Ghazarian. “The CVWBIA has participated in that citywide event for the last two years. In January it was decided that we will not be participating [in Nuit Blanche] this year. That freed up $30,000. We used $15,000 toward the Fetish Fair.”
While the Fetish Fair has a history of going over budget, Ghazarian is “confident” it will not do so this year.
“I think in the past the Fetish Fair didn’t get the right amount of funding from the start, and it inevitably went over budget,” he says.
Lewis says preparations for the Fetish Fair are now underway but the planning process is a few months behind schedule.
“We are now actively looking for street vendors, entertainers and volunteers,” he says. The event needs about 100 volunteers to run the event effectively, he adds.
The Fetish Fair will be held on Sun, Aug 16. Church St will be closed north of Wellesley St to Gloucester St and south of Wellesley St to Alexander St. Stages and vendors will open at noon and operate until 8pm (some stages will shut down at 7pm). Bar and restaurant patios will be extended into the street.
If you are interested in taking part as a vendor, entertainer or volunteer, email the CVWBIA at firstname.lastname@example.org.