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Dyke March launches year of 10s

'It's the dyke decade,' says president Theresa Wilson

Dyke March board: (back row) Caryl Dolinko, Mariegold Rondeau, Michelle Fortin, (front) Anna Needs, Annie Ellison, Theresa Wilson, Marianela Ramos Capelo, Danielle Macdonell. Credit: Jess Munitz photo

With the current incarnation of Vancouver’s Dyke March entering its 10th year, organizers are planning to host an event on the 10th day of every month leading up to the Aug 4 Dyke March and Festival in Grandview Park.

“It’s the dyke decade,” says president Theresa Wilson, at the Dyke March society’s annual general meeting, Jan 10.

“There’s a lot coming up, and we’re just thrilled to provide events and experiences for the community that resonate with what their needs are,” she says.

In February, the Dyke March will partner with WinterPride organizers Dean Nelson and Ken Coolen to host women’s events for Whistler’s Gay Ski Week. All proceeds from two après-ski events, speed-dating and an evening of “naughty games” and karaoke, will go to the Dyke March, with the possibility of more revenue sharing as well.

“They have set minimums around ticket sales, and if they surpass that before the event we get bonuses based on advanced ticket sales,” says Dyke March treasurer Michelle Fortin, who says she’s grateful for the WinterPride partnership.

“Ken and Dean are trying really hard to engage women up there,” Fortin says. “These [women’s events] are not big money-makers for them.”

A free Dykes and their Dogs dog-walking event is being planned for March 10, and the annual Diva’s Den party is being planned for the spring. Further events leading up to the Dyke March and Festival have not yet been announced.

With a new board and fresh event ideas, the Dyke March society reinvented itself in 2011, after financial instability and a lack of community interest and participation put the organization’s annual women-focused march and festival in jeopardy.

Last year, the organization hosted its first beer garden during the festival at Grandview Park; it generated $1,700. “We were successful in the beer garden after all of our work,” Wilson says.

“We jumped though every hoop, we went to meeting after meeting after meeting, lots of money went out and there was lots of work done with the city, fire and rescue, the liquor board and the Parks Board. We made it happen,” she says.

“The feedback that we got from people at the event this year was that it was amazing,” she continues. “Everyone loved the fact that we had a beer garden — for the most part. There were some people that responded a little bit negatively.”

Prior to the 2012 festival, Wilson says, some community members expressed concern that the beer garden would mar the family feel of the event. She also says the Parks Board received calls from nearby residents who cited safety concerns regarding liquor sales in the park. Some members of the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association also voiced concern that the beer garden would take away from local businesses.

The complaints were “fear-based,” Fortin says.

“One of the struggles for folks in the city and the Parks Board is that when there’s a liquor licence granted, there’s a whole bunch of complaints that come from people in the community and they are responsible to respond to those complaints,” she says.

As far as she knows, the city received no further complaints after the festival, but Fortin says the Dyke March has requested a meeting to follow up.

The Dyke March society’s financial records show the organization ended the year with $2,700 in the bank.

Fundraising and sponsorship declined by $2,000 from 2011, but revenue from beer garden liquor sales and the incorporation of more festival vendors helped offset that loss. The organization also received a $5,000 city grant in 2012.

Eight of the board’s 12 seats are now filled. Returning to the board in 2013 are Wilson, Fortin and directors Mariegold Rondeau, Danielle Macdonell, Marianela Ramos Capelo and Annie Ellison.

New to the board are Anna Needs and former Vancouver Pride Society sponsorship coordinator Caryl Dolinko.