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Pride Society to produce Davie St party in-house

Party profits questioned at annual general meeting

?SMOOTHEST TO DATE.? Pride Society president Ken Coolen (left, with treasurer Bernard LeClair) in part credits the new paid Pride festival coordinator position for this year?s successful event. The board will look at creating more paid positions, he Credit: Chris Howey photo

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) announced at its annual general meeting Nov 7 that it will look to gay village bar owners to co-produce the Davie St Dance Party next year.

“Next year we are not putting it out to tender,” says Ken Coolen, who has been appointed to a second term as VPS president. “We are doing it in-house.”

Coolen says the VPS had hoped the event would be internally produced this year, but agreements couldn’t be reached in time so the board contracted it out to John Donnelly & Associates to produce for the second year in a row.

Vince Marino, co-owner of the PumpJack Pub and the Junction Public House on Davie St, agrees there was not enough time for proper dialogue between the VPS and bar owners this year but thinks it’s a “positive step” to include the bar owners in planning for next year.

Marino says his businesses will participate if early and thorough dialogue occurs between the VPS and bar owners.

This year the dance party generated over $80,000 in revenue, most of which went to paying its operating costs, which Donnelly covered. When asked what return he got on his investment, Donnelly says, “Not quite enough to make it worthwhile, to tell you the truth.”

Coolen says the VPS split the profits from the Davie St party equally with Donnelly. According to its financial statement, the VPS made only $1,700 profit from the party in 2009. Donnelly says he made “under $2,000” in profit after expenses as well, and says a report of all costs was provided to the VPS.

Coolen says the exact expenses incurred to stage the street party are not in the VPS’ financial statement “because we have contracted it out. This year we want it back in the books.” 

VPS member Jamie Lee Hamilton questioned revenues from a Pride party going to an outside producer rather than back into Pride and the community.

Calling for “complete transparency,” Hamilton made a motion that in the future all third-party event producers contracted by the board must provide a report to the board which should then be available for membership to view at the AGM.

“I find this a little concerning that people want to see contracts at an AGM,” countered VPS member and Qmunity executive director Jennifer Breakspear. “You’ve entrusted this board to do their job. I don’t need to see every document,” she said, adding that membership should have more trust in its board.

After some debate, Hamilton’s motion passed with 11 members in favour and 10 opposed.

Coolen also announced that sponsorship levels were “record-breaking” in 2009 with more than $120,000 generated.

He also guaranteed that events such as Eastside Pride and the Pride movie night would continue, despite being among some of the lowest revenue generators for the VPS.

The membership elected new directors-at-large, including Raigen D’Angelo, Chris Ellis, Hendrik van Harn, Raj Jagwani and Sandra Laframboise, who had become the seventh Pride director to resign in six months when she left the board in May. At the time she said her resignation was spurred in part by two alleged incidents between herself and another board member.

“The issues from which I resigned have been resolved,” Laframboise told Xtra West after the AGM.

“They wanted me on again and I accepted. I have a lot to offer. I enjoy working on the board and I have accomplished quite a lot,” she said, adding that even through she had resigned she continued to work on VPS governance issues.   

The membership also approved nominations for the vice president (Emily Sors), treasurer (Bernard LeClair) and secretary (Andrew Rutgers) positions on the board. Candidates were nominated at an internal nominations meeting in April.

The nominations meeting stems from a bylaw passed at the VPS’ special general meeting Apr 4. Proposed amendments to other passed bylaws were also brought to the AGM and members approved governance changes including the requirement that all executive board positions, such as the vice president and treasurer, be screened and nominated in advance. Candidates must also declare that they have no criminal record.

Coolen says this year’s Pride was “the smoothest to date” and partially credits the new paid Pride festival coordinator position. The board will look at ways it can create more paid positions, he says, but for now the VPS must take “small steps.”