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New Dyke March members keen to get going

Question marks remain about funding, festival location

Emily Plommer, Grace Hiebert, Marigold Rondeau, Justin Sutherland, Melanie R, Theresa Wilson and Danielle Macdonell committed to revitalizing Vancouver's Dyke March in the wake of fears the annual women's Pride event may not come off in 2011. Credit: Shauna Lewis photo

The Dyke March and Festival Society’s call for new energy and ideas has attracted seven potential board members who have committed to breathing new life into Vancouver’s largest women’s Pride event.

Those interested are Theresa Wilson, Emily Plommer, Grace Hiebert, Melanie R, Justin Sutherland, Marigold Rondeau and Danielle Macdonell.

“It’s the injection of the new blood and the proper representation of our community that really keeps something like this going,” Dyke March president Sam Levy told a May 12 board meeting.

At an April 27 town hall billed as a “Save the Dyke March and Festival” meeting, organizers said that at least six new board members were needed if the annual event was going to celebrate its eighth birthday this year.

The community answered the call, with a few dozen people showing up to the town hall and pledging to assist in various ways.

“Seeing that energy definitely made us feel good about going forward,” Levy said.

Many of the meeting’s participants, most in their 20s and 30s, say they want to transform the look and feel of the march and festival into something fresh, colourful and more inclusive.

One attendee even suggested a total elimination of the board in favour of committees.

But while Levy assured new members that the existing board wants a succession plan, she said any major overhaul of the event must be put on hold until 2012.

With only 70-odd days remaining before the July 30 event, a “real rework” wouldn’t be possible this year, Levy noted.  “I also feel that we didn’t hear from the community that a complete rework is needed,” she added.

But the board has decided it will form committees to ensure the event is diverse and inclusive of all queers and allies and that fundraising, publicity and planning are handled effectively.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the event’s fate, the board missed the application deadline for its annual city celebration grant. But it remains confident it will get support because of its “pretty good relationship with the city,” Levy said.

The board hopes that the $15,000 it takes to host the event will be raised through grants and fundraising events slated for the next few months. If the money’s not there, Levy said, there may be only a march.

As for where this year’s event will be held, Levy is waiting to hear from the city if construction work at Grandview Park, the traditional home of the post-march festival, will be completed in time. If not, the festival will be held again at Victoria Park.