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Organizers expect at least 100,000 for Vancouver’s Outgames

Community input sought for cultural components

Details of the 2011 North American Outgames are beginning to emerge as organizers reach out to the community to form partnerships.

The latest community outreach session took place on May 19, with members of the gay artistic community encouraged to attend. Terry Costa from the Vancouver Pride Society, Dave Deveau from Zee Zee Theatre, David Blue from Raving Theatre and Amber Dawn of Out On Screen all attended.

Blue says the Outgames will be a chance to showcase local talent to an international audience.

Games chair John Boychuk agrees.

“Everybody’s free to come and play,” Boychuk says. “That will boost tourism from around the world. That’s why we need to ensure the social appeal is diverse.”

The Outgames are scheduled to take place July 25-31, 2011 and will dovetail into next year’s Pride events, Boychuk notes.

Boychuk says the Outgames already plans to partner with Pride to enhance its signature events. But he’s looking for other groups to come on board as well.

He estimates the games will draw 100,000-150,000 people overall.

Vancouver’s Outgames will also feature the first Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association drag pageant.

Amber Dawn says Out On Screen plans to exhibit its Chosen Family Portrait series.

And Deveau says Zee Zee Theatre will present something to build on the theme of the Outgames’ concurrent human rights conference.

Boychuk hopes the games’ opening ceremonies will feature runners arriving at Jack Poole Plaza on the downtown waterfront from Grouse, UBC and city hall.

The hope is that those runners will be able to light the Olympic cauldron, he says.

That cauldron is under the control of BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), a crown corporation that also operates BC Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

PavCo spokesperson Jinny Wu says the cauldron can be lit for special events.

Boychuk says organizers will approach PavCo after they’ve received city approval for their initial plans.

Organizers say the games were originally promised up to $400,000 by the province in October 2008. The province has since reneged on that commitment.

Organizers are now waiting on a $100,000 cash injection from the City of Vancouver pending resubmission of their budget. “We hope to have some level of commitment by July,” Boychuk says.

Organizers will hold more community meetings on June 23 and July 21 in the corporate boardroom at 2101- 1177 W Hastings St at 4pm.