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Community Advisory Panel Report - Executive Summary

Community Advisory Panel Report - Executive Summary

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Published by Xtra Canada

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Published by: Xtra Canada on Feb 18, 2011
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
 
OUR PRIDE:A C
OMMUNITY
E
FFORT
 
E
XCERPTED
R
EPORT OF
R
ECOMMENDATIONS TO
P
RIDE
T
ORONTO
 
INDEX

Executive Summary..............................................................................................2

Recommendations - General................................................................................6

Purpose of Pride...................................................................................................6

Governance..........................................................................................................6
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Trans Lens..........................................................................................................10

Community Relations.........................................................................................10

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Communities.......................................................11
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Language Access...............................................................................................11

Racialized Communities.....................................................................................12

Accessibility and People with Disabilities...........................................................13

Age (Youth, Family, Older).................................................................................13

Business Community..........................................................................................13

Other Pride Organizations..................................................................................14

Corporate and Government Funding..................................................................14

Culture and Entertainment..................................................................................15

Marches and Parade..........................................................................................16
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Advocacy regarding Alcohol Rules.....................................................................19

Thanks and Support for Volunteers....................................................................19

CAP Purpose......................................................................................................19
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CAP Objectives..................................................................................................20

Recommended Organizational Governance Structure of Pride Toronto.............21
 
CAP Final Report Executive Summary Page 2 of 21
Executive Summary
Pride Toronto and the Toronto Pride Week are at an historic turning point in their existence.The Toronto Pride Week has experienced noteworthy growth in recent years. Pride Weekhas become one of the largest events of its type in the world, and a major cultural event andtourist attraction for Toronto. However, this outward success has masked significant growingpains. The rapid growth and a commitment to “bigger is better” have stretched PrideToronto’s resources, its attention, and its energy, revealing financial vulnerabilities,operational and management inadequacies and structural weaknesses. Pride Toronto’sprimary focus on entertainment and its seemingly unqualified embrace of commercialsupport had caused it to lose sight of its original mission, and to neglect one of thecommunities it was established to serve: the trans community. Consultations have exposedcommunity disappointment with, and a serious erosion of trust, in Pride Toronto. Thedeterioration of this relationship of trust is further evidence of its troubled operations.The “perfect storm” arrived in 2009 and 2010 when this outwardly successful, but internallyfrail and vulnerable organization was beset by two simultaneous challenges. Like its sisterorganization in Sydney, after a successful 2009 financial year, Pride had unexpectedlyexperienced costs of growth that were exceeding the growth in revenues. The organizationwas headed for a record operating loss in 2010, in no small part owing to a drastic drop infederal government financial support. At a time when close attention was needed to thesefinancial management challenges and the organization needed to boost support, PrideToronto found itself embroiled in a controversy over its most popular event that divertedmanagement’s attention and energy, and further compromised its finances.Pride organizations around the world have struggled with resolving deeply political disputesover Parade participation. For example, in Sydney, Australia, the dispute was over theparticipation of a group called “Animal Liberation.” In Toronto, the conflict that erupted wasover the participation of a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). After theyfirst appeared in the 2008 Parade, a group of gay supporters of Israel began lobbying fortheir exclusion. They were not satisfied with the response of Pride Toronto, and escalatedtheir efforts through 2009 and 2010, producing a documentary condemning the group’sparticipation. Some protagonists framed the argument in binary terms, and pressuredpersons inside and outside the community to choose sides and bring pressure to bear onPride Toronto to yield to their point of view. Our survey has revealed that our community isdeeply polarized and divided on this issue.The effect of this controversy on a weakened Pride Toronto was traumatic. Some withdrewtheir financial support from Pride Toronto, or threatened to do so at a time when theorganization could ill afford lost revenue. In the absence of any guiding principles or conflictresolution process, the issues consumed the Board of Directors. The Board looked in vainfor community consensus, and hoped for a compromise between two uncompromising foes.They vacillated and changed positions, with the protagonists portraying each response aseither a victory for truth over a misguided leadership or an abandonment of principle byPride Toronto’s allegedly morally compromised management. Pride Toronto had littlecommunity support. The Board could never win.One effect of this debate was to erode outside support for Pride Toronto. At the politicallevel, the City of Toronto after reluctantly leaving 2010 funding in place made it clear at thepolitical level that funding for 2011 will depend on the organization’s successful resolution of
 
CAP Final Report Executive Summary Page 3 of 21
this issue. Funding from other sources is also in some doubt, not only because of thiscontroversy, but also because of the recent revelation of poor operating results in 2010 andcontroversy over conflict of interest allegations involving the former executive director. PrideToronto’s banker is also its lead sponsor. Fortunately for the organization and thecommunity at large, TD Bank Financial Group has faithfully stood by the organization duringthis time of trouble.In June of 2010, some community leaders became concerned that the situation at theorganization was deteriorating to the point that it imperiled the future of Pride Week, a muchloved community institution. They were convinced that Pride Toronto did not just require aprincipled solution to the issue of Parade participation; it also required a deeper review of itsmission, its community relations and its operations. Pride Toronto accepted two motionsfrom community leaders. These motions were comprised of both a short-term immediatesolution to the participation issue, and a proposal for a long-term examination of communityperspectives on the broader issues surrounding the controversy.To undertake this examination, Pride Toronto appointed an all-volunteer CommunityAdvisory Panel (Panel) comprised of community leaders and allies, and in so doing,attempted to reflect the diversity within the community. The Panel acted as an independentvolunteer advisory body and reported the results of its consultations to Pride Toronto. ThePanel’s mandate required it to provide high-level strategic recommendations designed toprotect and advance the overall objectives of Pride Toronto. These recommendations wereto consider the results of community consultations and stakeholder feedback.To obtain community perspectives, the Panel hosted six large-scale public meetings. Threemeetings were open to the broader LGBT community, and three were open to members andallies of the Trans, racialized, and LGBT Women’s communities. Meetings were held indifferent locations to facilitate attendance and accessibility. Members of the media were alsoinvited as a way of keeping the public informed of the Panel’s progress. The presence ofAmerican Sign Language interpreters at some meetings, as well as live streaming of themeetings by
XTRA,
helped to make the sessions accessible.In addition to these public sessions, the Panel engaged in targeted community outreach toindividuals and groups, the list of which was compiled from multiple sources, including
XTRA
, Pride Toronto, and others. A number of interested individuals and stakeholderscontacted the Panel, advising of their desire to provide input. The Panel arranged over fortytargeted sessions during the consultation process. The Panel also launched an onlinesurvey, using SurveyMonkey.com, recognizing that not all community members would beable to attend a public consultation. Over 1,600 responses were received. As well,community members were permitted to submit their input in writing for consideration by thePanel. The Panel’s website,www.CommunityAdvisoryPanel.ca, and its Facebook page alsoprovided interactive platforms to obtain information and inform the community. In summary,it is estimated that the Panel received input from over 2,000 community members.The Panel also researched the experiences of other Pride festival organizers. Specifically,the Panel consulted with the following organizations: Montreal, Quebec; Vancouver, BritishColumbia; New York, New York; San Francisco, California; Sydney, Australia; and Tel Aviv,Israel.After completing its consultations, the Panel concluded that Pride Toronto
could 
be savedand
should 
continue as an organization dedicated to serving the LGBT community, despitethe current uncertainty and challenges. The Panel found that Pride Toronto had veered from

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