The Pride In Art Society (PiAS) has changed the name of its annual festival to Queer Arts Festival presented by Pride In Art.
The unopposed change was made to avoid confusion between the arts festival and the Vancouver Pride Society, said PiAS president Jeff Gibson at the Society’s Jan 21 annual general meeting (AGM).
Queertopia, the best place on earth, is the theme of this year’s festival which will take place from Jul 25 to Aug 15.
Seán Cummings, a PiAS festival director, explained the concept.
“Queertopia implies that everything is fine, we have equal rights and marriage,” he elaborates, “[and] then someone gets bashed to the verge of death, people are being assassinated because they are homosexual, and we have refugees here who have experienced all kinds of violence in their lives.”
We define ourselves through the arts, “especially groups which have a history,” Cummings said. “We need to nurture our souls.”
A world without queer art is an “ugly one, and an empty one,” adds Gibson, who has helped the queer arts festival grow over the last three years.
The festival, which is largely volunteer driven, receives funding from all three levels of government. But recent cuts by the province in the area of gaming grants are being felt by BC’s arts organizations, like Pride In Art.
“PiAS did not receive the gaming grant it applied for last year, [and] this was a huge loss for us,” Gibson noted.
“It was our first time applying for this grant, so the impact was less upon us than it has been on other arts groups,” he indicated. “However, not receiving the funding means that we had little resources to meet our staffing needs.”
“There’s such little funding for the arts. All arts organizations are getting by with a little help from their friends” says Joel Klein, a PiAS board member. “We would like to be putting on workshops in the community, but we’re not at the funding level to be able to do that.”
Cummings did note, however, that the province has reclassified the festival from a community arts festival to a professional arts festival. “Essentially, it means that the festival will have more resources,” Cummings said.
PiAS’s goal is to pay artists better, he added.
The Chairman of the Outgames, John Boychuk, who also attended the AGM, said he wants to be sure that PiAS is part of the cultural exchange when the Games are held in Vancouver in 2011.
“We are truly working with the arts community to ensure there’s an opportunity to showcase,” Boychuk told the meeting.