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FFN keeps its books closed

Founder had promised to release records

The founder of FFN, the Toronto leather and fetish fair facing numerous financial questions, says he is not ready to open the event’s books.

John Tiffany, cofounder of FFN — formerly Folsom Fair North — promised in an interview with Xtra in March that he would publicly release audited financial records for all five years of the event by the end of April. He also promised that he would provide a copy of the records to the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (TPWAF) by mid-April. Tiffany said then that he needed to have the records audited first.

“I sent the followup information to our volunteer auditor,” he says from New York, where he now lives and works. “I’ll check and see what the delay is. Clearly those records are not available today.”

FFN cancelled its sixth event, scheduled for July of this year, after Xtra and event sponsors began asking questions about where revenues were going. FFN was supposed to raise money for a designated charity each year, with the charity providing all the volunteer labour for the event. In 2007 TPWAF was the recipient charity and provided all the volunteers.

The charity did receive $3,000 this January, six months after the event, but still has questions about the amount. The AIDS Committee of Toronto received $5,000 from FFN in 2004, but no money was given out in any other year.

“If PWA is to be the beneficiary then we have to be the beneficiary, don’t we?” said Pamela Beavis, TPWAF’s director of development and communications, in March. “How much did the fair make and what were the expenses? I have asked for the records and they did offer once they have completed their bookkeeping.”

Tiffany says he doesn’t know whether, as a registered not-for-profit corporation, FFN was required to have its records audited every year. He says Revenue Canada never asked for an audited statement.

“I’m just not the one who knows all the rules and regulations of accounting,” he says. “I am not an accountant. I’m really not a numbers guy. I don’t claim to be.”

According to Revenue Canada not-for-profit corporations are not required to file audited statements each year. But under Ontario law not-for-profits registered in the province are required to hire an auditor each year and to present an audited statement to its members annually. The corporations are not required to make those statements public.

There are exceptions under Ontario law. A corporation does not have to provide an annual audit if “(a) the company is not a public company; (b) the annual income of the company is less than $100,000; and (c) all of the shareholders consent, in writing, to the exemption in respect of the year.”

Tiffany did not respond to a question about whether FFN met all of those conditions.

The event asked for a $5 donation upon entrance and collected money from vendor fees and a beer tent. The FFN website claimed an attendance high of 17,000 in 2004.

Tiffany told Xtra in March that expenses for stages, sound, electricity, fencing, police and insurance ate up almost all revenue.