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A new era at Pride Toronto

A new era at Pride Toronto

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Kevin Beaulieu sits down with Xtra ahead of this summer's big festival
Two years ago Pride Toronto (PT) was embroiled in a censorship scandal, on the verge of financial collapse and appeared disconnected from a large portion of the queer community.
 
Kevin Beaulieu is now at the helm as the new executive director, and in many ways it seems the organization is finally able to bring this rocky chapter to a close.
 
Six months into the job, Beaulieu sat down with Xtra to discuss plans for Pride 2012 and WorldPride 2014. He says PT has taken a major turn in the right direction.
 
And while planning for this summer’s festival is kicking into high gear, the first controversy Beaulieu had to face was a familiar one. Mayor Rob Ford has, once again, declined Pride’s invitation to attend the parade.
 


“Whether or not an elected official is trying to send a message with their acceptance or non-acceptance of the invitation, it will often be perceived that way,” says Beaulieu. “We all remember how hard we struggled to gain acceptance. We’re not interested in going back to a time when we have to be ashamed of who we are, so it’s important that the people who represent us electorally understand the importance of connecting with our communities.”
 
Others at PT are more frustrated. On May 10, board member Roy Mitchell uninvited Ford.
 
“Consider this the un-invite you should have gotten long ago. The continued contempt you show for the community I belong to and work for is ugly and would be out of place for anyone, let alone the mayor of Canada’s largest city,” Mitchell wrote in a letter shared on social media.
 
Beaulieu -- formerly Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s executive assistant -- says he understands the frustration, but he is focused on the task at hand, planning the massive 10-day festival less than two months away.
 
“I would say we are on schedule,” he says, noting PT is not yet ready to announce any headlining performers for the five stages. “We are quite excited about a new stage up on Church and Wellesley, which will be programmed with trans artists.”


More than 250 artists will be showcased throughout the weekend, he says. Last year, 97 percent of those who performed at Pride were Canadian and local Toronto artists, he says. “It’s a great opportunity to develop local queer talent.”

Beaulieu, who comes to Pride from a background in municipal politics, ran for council in Ward 18 in the last municipal election, coming 1,366 votes behind Ana Bailão. Prior to that, Beaulieu managed Adam Giambrone's election campaigns in 2003 and 2006. He has a reputation around city hall as someone who is cheerful, affable, smart and diligent.

Wong-Tam, who met Beaulieu on the campaign trail, felt an instant connection and, after her win in Ward 27, recruited him to be her EA. As a rookie councillor, Wong-Tam says, Beaulieu’s extensive city hall experience was invaluable. She has even called him her “co-councillor.”

“He was the number-one draft pick with many new councillors,” she says. “Kevin is not only well liked, he has a lot of respect amongst his colleagues here.

“At Pride Toronto, he is exactly where he needs to be. He is proving himself a fantastic executive director, and he is going to take Pride through some tremendous growth. He is an asset to the LGBT community and exactly the kind of leadership that Pride needed.”


So far Beaulieu’s transition into the role of executive director has been a smooth one.

And if Pride is enjoying a renaissance with the community, Beaulieu points out that much of the credit should go to the board and the interim executive director, Glen Brown.

Financially, the organization is in “a very good” position, he says, compared to last year when PT faced a $431,000 deficit. Its audited financials, released this January, showed a $211,000 surplus. Beaulieu says cuts were made across the board in order to balance the books. The number of paid staff members has gone from 10 to five over the last two years.


Beaulieu says that working to strengthen trust in the local community is an ongoing process, noting that much of the current stability can be credited to the Community Advisory Panel. Its report, which contained 133 recommendations, included a process to ensure disputes are resolved fairly, such as the 2010 controversy surrounding the involvement of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in the Pride parade. The group chose not to march in 2011.
 
Last year, debate about QuAIA put city funding in jeopardy – about $123,807 in cash, as well as roughly $250,000 of in-kind services such as garbage cleanup and policing.
 
“Pride stands in solidarity with all of our communities. It’s important that they feel welcome at Pride and that they have a place at Pride and we support them,” Beaulieu says, noting PT is closely monitoring activity at city hall. Beaulieu thinks there’s so far no reason to be concerned that future funding is at risk.


PT is also looking ahead to 2014 and planning for WorldPride, an international party that will turn Toronto into “Pride City,” according to Beaulieu, who will lead a Toronto contingent to WorldPride in London, England, this summer.
 
“By international standards we already deliver a pretty big festival,” he says. “Toronto will be the first WorldPride in North America and the fourth time it’s ever been held. We are helping to define what that is, and I find that very exciting.”
 
 

Comments

Pride 2012
If I understood the article correctly, PT has surplus $$$ in its coffers. Great. Now could PT spend a few bucks on some festive, eye-catching balloon archways and maybe bring back the JumboTron so throngs on Church can check out the parade and other events?? Ground Zero at Pride has been a dour-looking affair the last few years. I thought queers were supposed to be splashy and theatrical. A challenge to PT: DAZZLE US.
Make Church St incredible to lure tourists
Dear Councillor Wong-Tam. Please see below how the Montreal LGBT Village is putting Toronto to shame with their exquisite design and festivities concepts to bring tourists to their Village. The whole main street in the Gay village is pedestrians only. They have streamers of Pink Balls (Les Boules Roses) strung across the road for miles --it is beautiful and festive in an expansive way and most innovative. Toronto LGBT Village is dismal and boring and scattered in comparison. Why would any tourist come to Toronto when they could go to Montreal and have a better time? AND BTW their whole main street (Ste Catherine St.) is blocked off to traffic --pedestrians only, for the whole summer. Can you have any influence over the Church Wellesley BIA to do something as spectactular in Our Toronto LGBT Village? Excellent_Promo_Video http://vimeo.com/27117847 http://www.claudecormier.com/projet/aires-libres-2011/ Click_on:_Les_Boules_Roses
Hotel bookings
Davix, do you really think that Pride Toronto has the financial resources to reserve thousands, or even hundreds of hotel rooms two years in advance? Or do you think hotels take block bookings for free? The Lion's Club International has over a million dues-paying members. Pride has a few hundred thousand dollars surplus at the best of times. Do the math.
The leak on the Pride Toronto board
I wonder which member of the board of directors of Pride Toronto regularly breaches their legal duty of confidentiality and leaks non-public information to Xtra? Who is this unnamed board source that Xtra refers to in its articles? For example: (1) Who was the board source that told Xtra the decision to change the dates of World Pride 2014 was made swiftly at a board meeting? See http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/WorldPride_2014_moving_to_new_weekend-11436.aspx (2) Who was the board source that told Xtra that the decision not to name a grand marshal for 2011 was passed at a May 11, 2011 board meeting with very little opposition. See http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/Pride_Toronto_nixes_2011_grand_marshal_honour-10202.aspx (3) Who was the source that, following the resignation of Tracey Sandilands as executive director, provided Xtra with a copy of the message that the board sent to Pride coordinators directing them not to speculate on the reasons for Sandilands' departure on Twitter or Facebook? See http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2011/01/26/Pride-Toronto-instructs-coordinators-not-to-speculate-on-social-media.aspx
A millky white sissy boy...
trying his best as only a momma's boy can to please Wong-Tam and all other minorities, because he's guilty and, and....I'm glad real gay men and lesbians with balls began the Pride Festival. But sadly their work is destroyed by people such as this nitwit. This is...oh damn it's just hopeless.
Dale Carnegie
Roy I have never read anything by Dale Carnegie. People that follow Leaders do. You can take the first step outside your box or remain class clown. In regards to YAH CHURCH I love a good laugh, see you The Village during the Toronto Queer Arts Festival Keep smiling everyone the world is a better place for it.
Sour grapes Michael
Michael F. Pare has been trying to destroy the LGBT Village at Church/Wellesley along with pot shots at our Village. As well, with word of mouth and media advertising of his so called Gay West Village. That turned out to be a little coffee house near Dundas and Landsdowne, which closed recently. He also tried to create a Gay West Village Festival which was a small number of spread out venues --boring as hell and poorly attended. He took every pot shot at Pride, as he's still doing. So now he's trying to rest on his dried and crumbled laurels, he wants to be “invited” as a cherished member of Pride for organizing the other Gay festival. NO WAY!!! Sour grapes Michael...Stay in your Gay West Village all alone. We are re-building Church Street as a Gay haven. Why don't you help instead of hinder??
huh?
Michel, Dale Carnegie called, he wants his book, "How to Make Friends and Influence People" back. I told him you probably haven't finished reading it! Keep trucking Michel..smiles your way! r.
GET YOUR BLAME STR8
@ David [?] April 2, 2009 Toronto Tourism announces a major Lions Club Convention is coming to Town. September 2009 Mark Singh pushed through an application for World Pride October 2009 Pride awarded World Pride at that time the staff, Tracy, Ben and Ryan should have automatically put a hold on every venue and hotel in the city and area. In the 2 and a half years after getting World Pride, Tracy was fired, Singh disgraced, leaving Ryan and Ben in defacto control of Pride Toronto. http://www.seetorontonow.com/Media/PressReleases-MajorConvention2014.aspx
Honey Badger yeah right
It’s disingenuous for Roy Mitchell l to pretend he doesn't represent Pride Toronto as director aka spokesperson (Junction Triangle Honey Badger Gay Club is just smoke and mirrors) when he writes scurrilous letters to Mayor Ford. Xtra correctly labelled the graphics as; letter to Rob Ford from Pride board member Roy Mitchell. I can’t understand why taxpayers continue to fund this festival, when Pride Toronto executive holds city in such contempt.

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