A mess, a miscommunication or a mistake — that depends on who you ask. But all sides agree that a series of Sunday-night parties at Heaven raised no money for Pride.
Cash raised throughout the spring and summer at the once-a-month soirees was spent on the Pride afterparty, held the evening of the Pride parade, says organizer Doug Muir.
In March, Capital Pride announced that a team of all-star party promoters, including Muir, had been assembled to organize Pride parties. Ads for Muir’s Pride Disco nights at Heaven promised that money would go to Pride.
Pride was asked to provide train tickets and hotel rooms for DJs and volunteers for the door, according to the last version of the contract between Muir and Capital Pride. But because the contract was never signed, neither side can say who broke faith first — and now everyone has agreed to let the matter go.
But that doesn’t change the fact that philanthropic party-goers believed their money would be spent in a different way, admits Pride organizer Marion Steele.
“Financially, no, the money at the door didn’t go to Pride,” says Steele. “But the nights did benefit Pride in the sense that everyone had a good time.”
Muir says that he was forced to pay for talent, hotel accommodations and travel out of his own pocket — even though both Via Rail and the Arc Hotel were Pride sponsors — because Pride never delivered on its promises.
“It was simple,” Muir says. “I couldn’t afford to do the party if they wanted me to give them half the money of the door and [but they would] incur none of the expenses.” Muir says that he incurred $ 3500 in expenses for the final Pride party.
“Apparently they had a meeting after I had given them a contract and had agreed amongst themselves to not include hotel and train tickets and they never informed me of that.”
Allegations came to light after former chair Gordon Boissonneault openly denounced Muir at Pride’s AGM Oct 24.
But after weeks of mulling it over, the new Pride committee changed its tune, admitting that there was no signed contract and neither one could demand restitution from the other.
“It was a learning situation for the Pride committee,” says Steele. “From now on we’ll make sure that everything is on paper and we have crossed all our Ts and dotted all our Is,” Steele says.
“We’re not going to rush into anything. Our contracts will be tight.”
Steele has been on the Pride board for close to a decade and she was in charge of sponsorships last year.
Muir says the Pride board has become to isolated from the community itself.
“I think it’s time the board starts getting a little more community friendly,” Muir says. “The problem is they can’t raise any money, and they can’t raise any money because it’s impossible to contact any of these people throughout the process. One person can’t run the pride committee. The community has to be involved in what’s going on. The board shouldn’t be left to do what they want to do with out community involvement, like it’s a secret little club. That’s really how last year operated.”
Last year, only a handful of people presented themselves as candidates for the Pride board, leaving it half empty. Boissonneault and the rest of the committee put out several calls for volunteers and tried to reach out to businesses with mixed results. The new Pride board has just two returning members, Steele and new president Joanne Law, but a full compliment, with eight new faces. The new board is hoping to put the controversy behind them.
Through all the mud and mire, Steele remains receptive. “If Mr Muir would like to make a donation to Pride, I’m open to that,” Steele says.