3 min

They gave the money back

What's new with Pride - and what's not

FLAG-WAVING MOMENTS. The best place to see the parade is inside of it. Credit: Xtra files

For all the problems Pride Toronto has had securing stable funding, it’s hard to believe they decided to return $40,000 worth of marketing funding to the Ontario government. But they did.

“The money really has to work for us,” says Pride cochair Ayse Turak. “There are very strict rules about how you can spend the money.”

Pride Toronto had applied to the Ontario Tourism Event Marketing Partnership Program. The program gives certain event organizers money for the placement and production of paid broadcast, electronic or print advertising. But it won’t cover general advertising campaigns, capital and operating costs of an event or event organization, administrative costs, websites, videos, CD-ROMS or advertising creative.

“The more we waited [for approval by the province], the less of it we could use,” says Turak. In the end, they decided that if they didn’t have more operational money, then it wasn’t worth Pride’s effort to come up with advertis-ing strategies that would attract more visitors. They mailed the cheque back.

It costs about $600,000 to put on Pride Week in Toronto, including $75,000 for stages and lighting, $30,000 for entertainers on the Church St stages and almost $60,000 for insurance. Organizers say they’ve lost $237,000 in government funding this year.

Rather than talk about scaling back spending as they did during the SARS scare in 2003, they’re beating the bushes for more corporate funding, more government funding and bracing for a projected deficit of $150,000.

“We’re going to go forward with the plan and hope the community will support the event. Obviously we can’t run a deficit every year,” says Turak.

But enough about money – there’s the party, too.

This year the Pride basics are the same: closure of Church St between Carlton and Gloucester on Sat, Jun 26 and Sun, Jun 27; Dyke March on Saturday at 2pm; Pride Parade on Sunday at 2pm. (If you have access to the paper version of Toronto’s Xtra, you’ll find our Ultimate Pride Guide inside the Jun 10 issue, chock full of detailed information.)

But there are a few twists Pride regulars will notice.

• The Twoonie drive is changing. Organizers say the drive, which split proceeds with volunteers from other community groups, just wasn’t worth the work it involved ($10,000 to split in 2003). Instead, they’ll have barrel-sized drop boxes around Church and Wellesley – hopefully easier to manage and more tempting for donors

• Pride’s entertainment committee has been more strategic in its programming, offering up something of an indie music festival. The North and South Stages will run all through the weekend (rather than alternating). Similar musical genres will be programmed together – if you’re grooving to the world beat, country twang or folk strumming, you can park yourself for a while

• The Alternaqueers stage is gone, but that vibe will be reflected more in the South Stage and the Buddies/Alexander St stage

• The multiple drag stages have been consolidated into one, near Church and Alexander

• The Central Stage – the dance music venue next to Crews And Tango – will open earlier Friday evening; as usual, Church St does not officially close Friday, but police typically close it for safety reasons when there is a critical mass of people in the ‘hood

• From noon to 6pm on Sat, Jun 26, there will be a female-focussed marketplace and community group fair on Church between Wood and Alexander

• Programming has been ratcheted up at the Paul Kane Parkette on Wellesley west of Church. On Saturday, there will be more groups involved in the Community Café between 11:30am and 9:30pm. On Sunday, the drug-less and booze-less Free Zone will have a full stable of entertainment from noon to 10pm

• There will be fewer portable toilets on the site and less money available for the Pride Parade bursary program

• The deadline to register for parade entry is Fri, Jun 11 – that’s tomorrow. The application form is at

• Volunteers can sign up on-line at or at the old PrideVision storefront at 500 Church St, which will soon be open 6pm to 9pm Thursdays, Fridays and Tuesdays and after 1pm on Saturdays – more often as Pride draws nearer

• Certain bars and nightclubs which support Pride Toronto will be granted permission to serve alcohol until 4am that weekend. The bars must be approved by the Alcohol And Gaming Commission Of Ontario – we’ll give you the list of legal late-night booze spots next issue.