Pride Toronto (PT) executive director Kevin Beaulieu says the Pride board has its hands full planning two festivals: this summer’s Pride Week 2012 and WorldPride in 2014.
“I think we are certainly on track for both festivals,” he says. “It’s challenging, of course, but we put the structures in place to do that and we have people assigned to various tasks. Planning two festivals at once is never easy, but so far so good.”
PT recently wrapped up three consultation sessions aimed at encouraging more community involvement in planning for the international event in two years. Beaulieu says the information collected was “incredibly valuable.”
“There is a real interest in telling our story and making Toronto part of an international dialogue,” he says. “The excellent turnout at these meetings shows people really want to get involved.”
About 70 people took part in the first session on April 18, at the Courtyard Marriott on Yonge St, at which the strategic plan was also unveiled.
Among them was Natalie Kouri-Towe, who stressed how important it is that PT ensure no WorldPride 2014 sponsors and financial backers are connected to any organizations with human rights violations.
“That kind of contradiction, which has been known to happen, is a dangerous one,” she says. “There’s a lot of risk if Pride doesn’t put a lot of thought into this in these early stages.”
Beaulieu says PT closely scrutinizes all its sponsors and financial backers.
“That’s part of the work we are doing now with existing partners, collaborators and funders, as we will with any potential new partners,” he says. “We want to be sure they are supportive of our community and goals. We do that process on a somewhat smaller scale every year.”
Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam applauded Kouri-Towe’s advice and encouraged her to volunteer for a WorldPride committee.
“There is something very exciting about hosting an international event,” Wong-Tam said. “It is often once in a lifetime that we can be part of something like this. The success and failure of WorldPride does not rest on Pride Toronto. It rests with each and every single one of us.”
PT member Ross Chapman asked about the new WorldPride logo, which was unveiled prior to the meeting. “Since Tourism Toronto designed it for free, how much involvement will they have in planning the festival?”
Board co-chair Francisco Alvarez assured Chapman that Tourism Toronto is a partner but “is not taking the lead on festival planning.
“We went with the Toronto Tourism design because we are running out of time. The design had to be quickly undertaken,” he said.
Alvarez said Pride has spent no money so far on advertising for WorldPride. “Tourism Toronto spent $100,000 on out-of-town marketing on our behalf.”
This week, the board has been busy finalizing plans for the local contingent that will travel to London for WorldPride 2012, Beaulieu says. Confirmed members of that committee include Beaulieu, board co-chairs Luka Amona and Alvarez, a delegate from Tourism Toronto, and a potential roster of Canadian artists and celebrities, Amona says.
Beaulieu says any community members who are planning to attend WorldPride this summer are welcome to join the PT contingent to help promote Toronto in 2014.