3 min

Pride Toronto plans for 2008

How will the city's budget crisis impact next year's celebration?

As Pride Toronto prepares to set its budget and fundraising goals for the next year the organization is worried about possible fallout from the city’s financial woes.

“We’re hoping to at least maintain what we had last year,” says Fatima Amarshi, Pride’s executive director. “A lot of it will depend on costs that might be downloaded to us from the city. At the moment I don’t think anyone at the city really knows what their budget will be.”

In 2007 Pride received about $115,000 in grants from the city, most under the Major Cultural Organizations grants program. Amarshi says she doesn’t have a figure on how much money the city also contributes in direct services, including policing, clean-up and crowd control barriers.

“The costs, even a few of them, would be very difficult to absorb,” she says. “We would either have to find new streams of revenue or cut events. The city council’s been very supportive, not only of us but of other events, and obviously we hope that continues.”

Amarshi says Pride may have a better idea of how the city’s finances will affect it once the fallout from city council’s Oct 22 vote on raising taxes becomes apparent. That vote will decide whether to increase the land transfer and car registration taxes that the city collects.

Amarshi says Pride has no immediate sources of new revenue on tap but that the organization will set its budget by the end of November after the various committees have met to discuss next year’s event.

The date for next year’s Pride parade has been set for the traditional last Sunday in June. The week will kick off on Fri, Jun 20. The Dyke March is scheduled for Sat, Jun 28 and the parade on Sun, Jun 29.

Amarshi says Pride will be looking for nominations for the parade’s grand marshal beginning in early November. She says the board will also be choosing the international grand marshal for the parade early next year.

“We’re looking for a grassroots activist working where there’s state-sanctioned violence against gays,” she says. “We’ve had marshals from Eastern Europe and South Asia so we’ll probably be looking for someone from another continent.”

Pride Toronto is still fighting a trademark infringement lawsuit against a merchandiser who wanted to use the Pride name to make money. Pride Toronto trademarked the word Pride, although cochair Lenore MacAdam says the organization allows other Pride festivals in Canada to use the term free of charge.

MacAdam says Pride is being represented pro bono by a Toronto law firm and is considering whether to turn ownership of the trademark over to Fierte Canada Pride, a national organization of Pride festivals. MacAdam says Pride Toronto is worried about whether the national organization will be able to vigorously defend the Pride trademark.

“Right now they don’t even have access to pro bono lawyers,” she says.

Pride is also looking to hire a full-time volunteer program manager. That person will be responsible for recruiting, training and managing Pride’s many volunteers and for coordinating the volunteer committees. Applications are due Fri, Oct 26.

Pride is also conducting a survey of community members about what Pride should be like in the future. The deadline for filling out the online survey was Oct 23.

MacAdam says one purpose of the survey is to find out how people feel about the relationship Pride has with corporate sponsors.

“We regularly hear from people that Pride is too corporate but we really at this point have no choice but to have some corporate funding,” says MacAdam. “We’re trying to get a sense of how do you want to pay for it. We have to pay for Pride somehow.”

The survey includes questions about whether Pride’s primary mission should be raising the visibility of the community, celebrating queer identity or advocating for queer rights. The survey also asks whether Pride should leave political views to other community groups or whether it should begin taking specific political stands as a community organization.

“From a values perspective, we wanted to have a sense of what Pride means to people,” says MacAdam. “Whether the most important thing is the celebration or the political statements.”