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Keep Pride Toronto entertainment local, CAP hears

Financial backers anxious to hear findings

Rev Brent Hawkes listens to the group discussion at the second Pride Toronto (PT) Community Advisory Panel at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen St W Dec 4 Credit: Andrea Houston

One group at the second Pride Toronto (PT) Community Advisory Panel made the point that the entertainment should be local, and if international artists are brought in, there should be a specific purpose for the booking.

“It would send the message that the purpose of the entertainment program is not just to sell drinks,” Ayden Scheim says, speaking for his group during the summary presentations at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen St W Dec 4.

“We recognize that Pride needs to make money, but there have been strategies in the past to try and give space to local performers.”

The group also suggested PT shouldn’t segregate the stages so much, but instead have fewer stages that involved a wide range of performers and genres.

They also thought PT should put more focus on creating a street-party atmosphere and less on the stages.

Scheim’s group was one of only three tables at the second consultation session, made up of about 25 people. There were about 150 people at the first session at the 519 Church Street Community Centre on Dec 2.

Once again, issues are being raised surrounding a lack of transparency at PT, the unfolding debate around Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), budget challenges, the future of funding, discrimination at city council, and who should be included in the festivities. Questioning? Allies?

“Pride should be about us,” says Lisa Duke, sitting at a table moderated by Rev Brent Hawkes. “Can we just take out the letter A? I consider Pride my national holiday. I take time off work.”

The group also called for only one Dyke March to be organized in 2011. The Take Back the Dyke March last year made Ari Berger sad, she says, adding it illustrated how the community has become fractured.

Interestingly, it was revealed by Hawkes that other sponsors may be interested in the panel’s findings as well, possibly leading to loss of revenue — not just by the city, but also by corporate sponsors and other financial backers.

“To infer that the issue is if QuAIA is in the parade some of the funders are going to pull out? That may be the case, but that’s not quite clear,” Hawkes says, answering a question from one table about how the recommendations will be used to determine funding.

“The funders want the community to make the decision about what Pride is, so then they can make their decisions about what they want to fund or not. So some of the issues around the parade will need more earlier decisions than later decisions.”

None of the recommendations are binding on PT. But Hawkes says PT and the panel is working somewhat in tandem.

“Again, we are doing this dance. We are the creation of the Pride board, but we are independent,” he says. “There has been no pressure on us from the Pride board in any way other than they want to see the recommendations. They’d like them earlier than later. We are not confined by the Pride board in terms of what we recommend, and we’re not even confined by our mandate.”

Hawkes says his sense is that there is a lot of “good will to entertain the recommendations if they are reasonable” by PT.

“The Pride board also feels there’s so much that’s broken [with the organization]. I really have the sense that they want some help too.” He adds, “I understand your skepticism. I’m not trying to defend the Pride board.”

Pride Toronto Community Advisory Panel sessions:

Dec 6 – Discussing general issues – 7pm to 9pm at the Bennett Lecture Hall, Flavelle House, University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law at 78 Queen’s Park Cres.

Dec 9 – Focus on trans issues – 7pm to 9pm at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.

UPDATE: New panel session added – Dec 11 – Focus on deaf issues – 2pm to 4pm at the 519 Church Street Community Centre

Dec 14 – Focus on racialized people and people of colour – 6:30pm to 9pm at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.

Facebook: Contribute to the discussion on the Community Advisory Panel Facebook Group.

For more information and to find the online survey: www.communityadvisorypanel.ca


Xtra recorded our live stream of the Racialized/People of Colour Consultation – Community Advisory Forum. Watch the three-part archive below (note: there are some audio issues during the first 20 minutes).