Despite an unstable economic climate and difficulty solidifying corporate sponsors, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) has decided to keep all nine of its signature events this year — but not without strict budget review and a few modifications.
“We didn’t want to give up any events, but we realize that we are stretching ourselves with some of them,” VPS president and festivals committee chair Ken Coolen told the committee meeting Feb 11.
The committee had met to consider which events, if any, to cut based on their financial viability.
Coolen pointed out that Eastside Pride 2008 earned nothing in revenue and ran a deficit of $700.
The committee agreed to put a motion to the board proposing that the Eastside Pride dance following the Commercial Dr festival be farmed out to an alternative community event planner. The board later asked the entertainment committee to assess how collaborating with another organization would benefit the VPS.
“At this point, the intention is for the dance to go on,” Coolen says, adding that if collaborating with another organization is not possible then the VPS will look at ways to do it itself.
Meanwhile, the VPS is hoping to collaborate with the Davie Village bars to host this year’s Davie St Dance Party.
“We completely licensed out the contract last year [and] we are going to look at how we want to do it this year,” Coolen says. “I think the opportunity is for us to hire somebody to produce it internally.”
Primary liquor license holders on the gay strip were irate last year when the VPS decided to forge partnerships outside the community for the Pride street party in the Village.
“They gave us the middle finger,” says Celebrities promotions manager James Steck.
Steck says he was one of many club representatives that felt jilted when the VPS overlooked their participation in the Davie St Dance Party and instead hired Donnelly and Associates Event Marketing.
It was a slap in the face to the bars that have always supported VPS fundraising efforts, Steck says.
This year’s plan to incorporate bars into the street party seems like a desperate move on behalf of the VPS, he continues. “They can’t get corporate sponsorship and they’ve turned to the bars again.”
Coolen says he plans to discuss the matter further with the Davie Village businesses.
While Steck remains disappointed with the way the VPS handled last year’s street party, he says Coolen is “on the right track” now and that Celebrities will consider participating in this year’s event.
Coolen says he’s confident everything will work out.
“We have started signing on sponsors, a lot of the media and in-kind sponsors are coming back at the same levels, cash sponsorship is slowly starting to come in,” he told Xtra West after the festivals committee’s follow-up meeting, Feb 18. “We’re moving forward and we’re getting creative about how we are doing fundraising now. I have a very optimistic view. You don’t give up until you have to give up.”
“I support my president 100 percent so having said that, if he says to look at the cup as half full and not as half empty, then I have to change my mode of operation that way,” VPS board member Sandra LaFramboise told Xtra West.
“Having said that, personally, I know that we’re facing a global economic crisis and that everybody around the world are cutting back. So that’s my worry. On the other hand, he’s in charge so I’m going to support him.”