Pride Toronto lost more than $45,000 on the 2006 event, after showing a profit of more than $41,000 the previous year.
Treasurer Ross Chapman told Pride’s annual general meeting on Oct 3 that much of the $45,303 loss was due to the organization’s decision to put more money back into the festival, upgrading things like sound systems and equipment.
“We did have a 12 percent growth of revenues,” said Chapman, while presenting Pride’s audited financial statements for the 2005-’06 year. “However, we did have a considerable growth in expenses. The board decided to reinvest in infrastructure.”
That meant digging into the $350,000 surplus Pride has tucked away over the past few years, part of which is earmarked for — literally — a rainy Pride Day, which would result in lower beer-garden revenues.
The statements included figures from two of Pride’s more controversial decisions of the past year: the charging of a clean-up fee to parade participants and the hiring of a professional public relations firm to handle promotions.
Pride charged individuals a $25 clean-up fee, groups $50. The fee was originally compulsory, although Pride later called it optional. Executive director Fatima Amarshi said the fees were included in the revenue line item of permits and fees, which showed a decline from 2005, down to $133,911 from $137,428. Amarshi said she doesn’t have a figure on how much money the fees raised.
Amarshi also refused to say how much Pride paid Planet 3 Communications, although she said the expense was included in the media and promotion line item, which increased to $190,346 from $174,310 in 2005.
The AGM also saw the election of three new board members (there were five of 12 positions available, so they weren’t competing for spots). New board member Mark Singh works for Toronto’s city planning division, creating sustainable transportation and environment initiatives. He was the coordinator of Pride’s sponsorship marketing committee in 2004. Also elected was Ash Bhimani, owner of the Lettieri café at Church and Wellesley.
The third new board member, who was elected to replace Natasha Garda as female cochair, is Lenore MacAdam. MacAdam has previously been the Dyke March coordinator and a member of the Pride finance committee.
All three new board members told the meeting that they were concerned the growth of the festival had shifted the focus away from the queer community and toward commercialism.
“Reconnecting our community to the parade is one of the most important things,” said Singh. “It’s become a spectacle for many who aren’t part of our community. We must continually strive to put on a festival that’s inclusive for everyone.”
Bhimani said he had similar aims.
“The three Prides we’ve been a part of, it’s evolved, gotten bigger geographically, gotten more exposure. We need to bring the focus back to the Church/Wellesley area.”
MacAdam said she was coming in with some questions in mind.
“How do we remain financially viable while being aware that many see it as being too corporate? Are we inclusive enough to the trans members of our community? What is the role of the Dyke March?” said MacAdam. “If I were to create a slogan for next year, it would be ‘Pride: User-friendly.'”
MacAdam also answered a question about whether the Dyke March, which is held on the Saturday before the main Pride parade, is divisive.
“The reality is women in this community want there to be a Dyke March. There aren’t a lot of women-only spaces. For whatever reason, the [Church-Wellesley] area is mostly men. But it’s important to go back to the women of this community and find out what they want. That hasn’t been done for a few years.”