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Vancouver Dyke March fills empty board seats

Organizers keep the march and festival alive for 2016 at annual general meeting

Reducing director burnout and recruiting more volunteers is the first step in the Vancouver Dyke March and Festival’s plan for sustainability, directors told the organization’s annual general meeting, April 9, 2016.

Nine people attended the meeting.



“We are just constantly playing catch-up, especially with a small board, so one of the big things is it’s difficult to establish continuity,” says board member Catherine Mateo.

“If new directors come in they’ll burn out — then the new directors have to start from scratch and that’s a big problem,” she says.

“If we’re always playing catch-up we can’t do any of the long-term planning things we need for the organization to survive.”



After concern that the board might once again dwindle to just one person, members elected three new people to join Mateo on the board, as well as one person returning from hiatus. Five out of seven seats are now filled on the board.

Despite the annual Dyke March and Festival’s popularity on the Drive during Pride weekend, organizers have repeatedly struggled to attract enough board members to keep the event alive.

The Dyke March is also down to just $348 after accounts receivable, having spent $8,772 of its 2015 revenue of $9,112. 



“That kind of sucks to see,” says Mateo, who notes the inability to retain board members threatens the financial stability of the Dyke March. She says the board missed two opportunities for city grants in the last five years.

“In 2011 there was low participation [on the board] so the grant application was delayed and we didn’t receive a grant,” Mateo says. “In 2014 there was a struggling board of three and a board member died and no grant was received.”



She says those two missed grants are worth $8,000–10,000 combined.

 “It’s a good $10,000 each year to run it and we’ve been getting a declining amount of money,” she says.



The Dyke March’s largest source of income in 2015 was a $3,500 grant from the City of Vancouver. 



Meeting participants discussed new sources of income, including the possibility of corporate sponsorship, though community members have often expressed a preference for a logo-free, grassroots event.



Outgoing treasurer and board member Andrea Parker says the Dyke March should continue to pursue partnerships with like-minded organizations such as Qmunity, the Vancouver Pride Society and businesses that align with their values. 



“We want to partner with as many businesses who have the same kind of corporate values so we can build some sustainability,” she says. 



In addition to board members, Dyke March organizers also hope to recruit volunteers who may be reluctant to sit on the board. 



“I think that the broad question is why — when there’s a huge turnout on Pride weekend — is there so little support in the community to actually drive that day for women and their allies during Pride season?” asks previous board president Michelle Fortin.



“I don’t think we have any trouble getting volunteers the day of,” Parker says. “We need some people to do some background behind-the-scenes work because that’s where the hardest stuff is.” 


Members voiced support for hosting year-round events both to raise necessary funds and to increase visibility within the community and stay engaged. 



The next Dyke March fundraiser will take place on Saturday, April 16 at the Met Bar and Grill in New Westminster. Their biggest fundraiser, the annual Diva’s Den show, takes place at The Penthouse on Sunday, May 22, 2016.