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UPDATE: ‘Rise Up’ composer would welcome partnership with WorldPride

WorldPride committee neglected to secure Parachute Club song rights before posting

The Parachute Club's Lorraine Segato. Credit:

The Parachute Club’s Lorraine Segato says she is delighted that Toronto’s queer community feels a connection with the song “Rise Up” and hopes an agreement can be made with WorldPride 2014 so they can use it.

“We are honoured and thrilled that the community has responded and recognized the song for the ideas it represents regarding equality, empowerment and diversity,” she says, confirming that Pride Toronto has yet to secure rights to use the song at WorldPride in 2014.
“We would love to help the Pride committee find ways to use the actual song or a version of the song to represent the theme as chosen,” she says.
Segato, who is an out lesbian from Hamilton, says joining forces with WorldPride would have personal meaning for her as well. She says the 1983 song was first performed during Toronto Pride, on a stage at the University of Toronto.
“We publicly debuted the song at a Pride event on the U of T campus to 600 brave Pride revellers,” she recalls. “Back then, it was dangerous to go to a Pride event.
“Pride is now an extraordinary spectacle of diversity and celebration, and it is amazing to see how far we have come as a community. The song has obviously gone on to become an anthem for many, yet it should be remembered that the impetus for ‘Rise Up’s’ success first came from our grassroots gay, lesbian and feminist community, who were the first to hear and awaken to our call for equality, long before anyone else did.
“So we think it would be fitting and fantastic if an agreement for its use [for WorldPride] should come to pass.”
Jan 24, 3pm: UPDATE: Pride Toronto removes its ‘Rise Up!’ video


Just hours after releasing a promotional video for the new WorldPride 2014 theme, Pride Toronto abruptly removed the video because it had not secured rights to the song “Rise Up,” which was playing in the background.
PT board co-chair Francisco Alvarez says the video should not have been released publicly. 
“A member of the communications committee took it upon himself to create this video, and he used the ‘Rise Up’ song in the video,” Alvarez says. “It won’t be public again until we determine what rights we actually have.”
Alvarez says PT had already spoken to members of Parachute Club about using their song in conjunction with the WorldPride theme, which is to be officially announced at an event tonight (Jan 24) at the Roundhouse. “But we aren’t sure that we got permission to use it in a general broadcast sense,” he says.
Recently, Parachute Club changed record labels, Alvarez notes. “So we don’t want to get them or ourselves in trouble by making something public that we aren’t absolutely sure we have the rights to use on the internet. But we do have permission to use it tonight.”
The song plays in the background throughout the video while a handful of revellers are interviewed during Halloween celebrations. Those in the video, including Church and Wellesley BIA co-chair Avery Pitcher, sing the praises of Toronto as a tourist destination and highlight the Distillery District, Little Italy and Little Portugal neighbourhoods.
This isn’t the first time the song “Rise Up” has been used to promote something without the permission of the band. In 1998, when the song was licensed by EMI Music Canada, McCain Foods wanted to use it in a television commercial for its line of frozen rising-crust pizzas.
At the time, members of Parachute Club publicly opposed commercial use of the song and took legal action for breach of copyright against EMI Music Canada and McCain Foods.
Parachute Club won the lawsuit. While EMI Music Canada had been granted the right to license the song, the courts decided that the band had the moral right to prevent its association with a product that they believed brought their reputation into disrepute.
In a news release issued when litigation started, band members stated, “As a result of its use on the ad . . . the song, the people who believe in it and the reputation of its creators have suffered damage within the sphere of public credibility and our personal reputations.”
Alvarez says PT has not yet secured the rights to the song to be used as the official WorldPride 2014 theme, but it plans to do so.
“It makes sense [to seek out the rights],” he says. “But it has to be affordable, and everyone has to agree that it’s to everyone’s interest.”
It’s not known how much it would cost to secure the rights for an official capacity, he says. Using the song at tonight’s event came at no cost to PT. “We would have to negotiate with [the record company]. They might just give it to us. They will want to know how many times it will be played and where. We will provide more detail.”
Regarding new WorldPride logos, Alvarez says the board will welcome any queer artists who want to work with the board for the theme logo or other promotional materials for WorldPride.
“I don’t really agree with [board member] Mark [Smith]’s characterization about the community not being involved in this. That whole process is being managed by a sub-committee of the WorldPride committee.”
While there’s no professional illustrator or graphic designer on the committee, Alvarez says there are a number of creative people involved, such as social media experts. “Their job is to represent the community. Any proposals we get for branding and design goes to that committee . . . Many of us on the committee know about design.”
In the past, Alvarez says, the board has put out a call for artists to join the committee, which still stands. The chair of the WorldPride 2014 marketing and communications subcommittee is Antoine Elhashem, publisher of the Pink Pages/Pink Play magazine.
Alvarez admits the WorldPride logo was designed by Tourism Toronto, but the committee worked closely with them, he says. “We are [Tourism Toronto’s] client. They are fulfilling our creative direction.”
The Rise Up logo has not yet been completed, he says, noting the board was hoping to release it at the same time as the theme. “We just didn’t have enough time to do that.”
Alvarez is now aiming to unveil it in the next few weeks. “That will give us time to do a teaser campaign on social media.”    
Jan 24, noon – UPDATE: Pride Toronto releases ‘Rise Up!’ video

WorldPride has released a promotional YouTube video to announce the theme for the 2014 event.

The video was filmed during 2012 Halloween celebrations. 

Check out the video below. 

Jan 24, 9am: ‘Rise Up!’ selected as WorldPride theme

Pride Toronto (PT) board member Mark Smith says Rise Up! has been chosen to be the theme of WorldPride in 2014.

“It’s a really great choice,” he says. “It gives people a message that’s really positive. It’s about activism and celebration and dancing.”

But Smith also expressed concern that the community may be shut out of the design for the WorldPride theme logo, similar to what happened with the official WorldPride logo.

Community members expressed frustration at the time that Tourism Toronto created the logo, rather than local artists. Some called the finished design “boring” and “uninspired.”

“It was convenient and it was lazy,” Smith says. “We got it for free.”

For the next logo, Smith hopes to see more collaboration with local queer artists. He encourages artists to start submitting ideas and pitches to the board, ways to make the theme have impact and reflect the city’s queer culture.

“I would like to see partnerships with local artists. There are so many good artists in this community, people who do this professionally and understand the feel of the neighbourhood. The whole point of WorldPride is not what we are giving to the community, but what the community is bringing to WorldPride.”

Kevin Beaulieu, Pride Toronto’s executive director, would not confirm the theme. He says it will be announced at a news conference Jan 24 at 6pm at the Roundhouse, at 255 Bremner Blvd.

On PT’s Facebook group, a survey shows Rise Up! has had a strong lead. It was also the clear favourite of PT members who attended the last annual general meeting, in October, where the shortlist was announced. Other themes considered included Bring it!, Rainbow Revolution and Reflections of Pride – Stonewall 45.

“Rise Up” is also the name of a 1983 Parachute Club song that is cemented in Toronto’s queer history as a theme for the local gay rights movement. It will also forever be connected to Jack Layton, a hero to many in the queer community. When Layton died in 2011, the song was performed by Lorraine Segato at his state funeral.

PT is putting out a call to artists who want to participate in 2013 Toronto Pride, which will be the 33rd annual festival, taking place June 28 to 30.

Pride is currently searching for DJs, bands, drag queens and kings, dancers, comedians, performance artists and theatre troupes for its seven stages. The deadline for entries is Feb 28.

For more information, contact TK, Pride’s arts and culture manager, at or by calling 416-927-7433 x241.