Vancouver’s Outgames seem to be on firmer financial footing now, thanks to a pending civic grant that could open the door to further funding from the province as well.
On March 1, city staff recommended council approve a $100,000 Sport Hosting grant for the Outgames, pending resubmission of the event’s budget and confirmation of its plans.
Staff described the Outgames as a “strong candidate” that “should meet the grant criteria once the outstanding details are confirmed.”
“Our original budget was $2.9 million, and it has been adjusted slightly downwards, so we don’t know if that will change the qualification level,” says John Boychuk, celebration chair of the Vancouver Outgames bid. “We don’t think it would, but we need to be ready just in case.”
The Vancouver 2011 North American Outgames is a sports and cultural festival that showcases both queer and straight athletes. The Vancouver event is the precursor to the next World Outgames, scheduled for Antwerp in 2013.
“We know from the Olympic experience that Vancouver is ready for another party — the North American Outgames is the 2011 party!” says Team Vancouver president Dan Quon.
The Outgames, which are scheduled to take place here from July 25–31, 2011, were originally promised up to $400,000 by the province in October 2008. That promise has since dried up, and many thought the Outgames were about to shrivel up, as well.
Now, if the city grant comes through, the Outgames will be eligible for further help from Victoria as well.
“We will have the Games no matter what,” Quon promises. “But rather than a small event, we could attract thousands [with provincial funding] and strut Vancouver on the world stage one more time.”
“As we continue to expand our events, it will solidify some of our [provincial grant] applications,” says Boychuk. “We will continue to work with the provincial government, and we’ll just hope that money will become available.”
A spokesperson for BC’s Ministry of Housing and Social Development promised to look into the likelihood of provincial funding for the Outgames but did not get back to Xtra by press time.
Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert believes the BC government should make events like this a priority due to the impact they can have on the city.
“The challenge right now is economic,” says Chandra Herbert, who is gay. “The BC Liberals are making massive cuts to arts and culture investments, which are affecting festivals and performances all across the province. However, I think that the economics on this one alone should make the argument that it is deserving of some support.”