Pride Toronto’s demanding work schedule is driving away employees, the organization’s cochair told its annual general meeting.
Lenore MacAdam, the departing female cochair, told the meeting on Oct 16 that Pride had recently lost its executive director, associate director and arts and entertainment director.
“We have had almost 100 percent turnover in the last year,” she said. “We’ve had too much turnover. We’re in the process of creating an employee policy manual, which will address hours of work.
“It’s almost like a sort of machismo around it, one person saying, ‘Oh, I’ve only had four hours sleep,’ another saying, ‘I’ve been living on Red Bull for a month.’ One of our major focuses is bringing a work/life balance to Pride. We don’t want to have this issue any more.”
MacAdam was also asked why community groups found themselves shunted off Church St during Pride weekend in favour of corporate sponsors.
“Nobody’s being excluded,” she said. “There’s no intended agenda. The site is always in a state of flux. Sometimes ways that we think are new and clever turn out not to be.”
But Lisa Duke, Pride’s event logistics manager, said community groups were moved off Church because there were too many of them and many of them wanted to be near each other.
“In the central area we’ve bought that down mainly to sponsors,” she said. “Everyone wants to be in that central area and they can’t be. We look at who do we have the most of.”
Duke said space on Church St has become even more limited because Pride is leaving more room in front of businesses and more local merchants are setting up booths in front of their establishments.
Pride also came under fire for not providing enough funding to parade participants. One audience member said Pride needs to encourage the same atmosphere of competition that Caribana fosters among its parade participants.
Pride treasurer Chris Killam said the parade was not the only part of Pride.
“The Parade and the Dyke March are only one aspect of the Pride Festival,” he said. “That’s also another aspect to look at.”
Killam also expressed some trepidation about how the world financial crisis might impact Pride.
“It’s still a bit early to judge the level of sponsorship,” he said. “We may be impacted by rising prices from suppliers.”
MacAdam said financial issues might also affect next year’s turnout.
“It may also have an effect on levels of attendance,” she said. “Of course we thought it would this year with rising gas prices and it didn’t.”
At the meeting Pride elected new board members and presented the year’s audited financial statements – which will be voted on at a general meeting at the end of November.
The organization announced a surplus of $41,972 on expenses of $2,034,825. Last year Pride had a surplus of $80,582 on expenses of $1,481,034. The increase in revenues was attributed mostly to $200,000 in additional sponsorships and $300,000 in additional grants, including $200,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and $70,000 from Tourism Toronto.
Killam did note that Pride has $346,319 in moneys owed, but said he isn’t concerned.
“These are very well-known companies,” he said. “We have an excellent chance of collecting on accounts receivable.”
Pride elected five board members and a cochair to three-year terms. Genevive D’Iorio was elected as the new female cochair, replacing MacAdam. Gaya Arasaratnam, Keith Clarkson, Jim Cullen, Margaret Ngai and Selma D’Souza were elected as board members.
New members called for Pride to be more inclusive.
“How can we bring the trans community more into the fold?” asked Cullen. “When I look into the audience I see a lot of white men. Standing up here as a white man I’m very aware of that privilege.”
Ngai said she would work on encouraging more participation from Toronto’s ethnic communities.
“How do we get the right message about Pride into ethnic communities?” she asked. “I come from a world where Pride is seen very differently than it is in this community.”
The meeting also announced the process for selecting a theme for Pride 2009. Interested participants can visit the Pride website at Pridetoronto.org to submit a suggestion. The deadline is Thu, Nov 13.
Submissions will be reviewed by Pride’s staff and volunteer committee coordinators. Two finalists will be selected and will be voted on in November. The theme for 2008 was Unified.