Article Title:Can a Hero rise again?
Author or Credit:Richard Howard
Published on:28th November 2008 - 09:13 am
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Story ID:6807
Text:The situation is grim for Hero right now, but the Festival and its values are still relevant and can be rescued, writes OUTline Board Member and independent creative sector consultant Richard Howard: Uncertainty surrounding the planning and presentation of a Hero programme for summer 2009 is unfortunate for us all. Some might say that such uncertainty is a much too familiar phenomena that has periodically plagued the organisation and governance of Hero. Indeed that is probably so and once again there appears to be governance, people resources and timing problems that are frustrating those of you who are right now keen to participate in the 2009 programme. Some people may be tempted to place some blame on the apparent failings of the Hero Trust. Some may even be reading the situation as the indicators of a tired or dying brand - the demise of Hero. I do not ignore such possibilities but my perspective is different. My recent, independent enquiries as a creative sector consultant lead me to believe that the essence of this present situation is more a reflection of the uncertain GLBT participation in trust activities rather than the failings of the current board of trustees (of which there just two remaining). The Hero festival is not or never has been just pulled out of a hat each year; it is in fact the result of significant community and individual participation and interactions. It has typically involved many different people giving of their time and expertise of many months and in some cases years. It has never by any means been an easy journey to provide for the GLBT demands. Sometimes these volunteers have got the sensitive mix of tasks and relationships very right and sometimes very wrong. Always there are levels of uncertainty in organising projects and events. This is the nature of community based organisations. Currently, very few people out there have come forward or put their hands up to lend their skills and efforts or to take on some of the vital work and responsibility associated with keeping Hero activities viable and in the lime light. The 2009 effort is woefully, impossibly under resourced. The current uncertainty associated with Hero 2009 therefore appears to be a broad community issue rather than a Hero Trustees issue. It is possible that people have simply forgotten the true values that Hero stands for, that even today are important and highly relevant to building and maintaining positive GLBT lives in broader society. Perhaps we currently have it too good and public expression of our qualities, differences and contributions no longer seems necessary to some. I invite people to review their own positions in light of the "darker influences" that still affect our communities from within and externally, to determine the ongoing relevance of Hero. Personally I think that it is still vital and highly relevant. Two trustees do not an organisation nor a Festival programme make! Nevertheless those two are still taking the responsibility under extreme circumstances to do what they can to ensure that there is some sort of programming in summer 2009. Both Trustees are in fact very sensitive to the limits of their situation and their legal and community responsibilities which is a great credit to them. Currently they seem to be uncertain about their legal mandate and capacity to authorise activities and expenditure with such a reduced membership so they are looking for other ways to support 2009 programming. Frankly at this time if the trust were to do no more than work to revitalise and strengthen the Trust and review the services over the next six months then this would be an appropriate and valuable service to the GLBT communities. There is no question that much work needs to done (by someone) if Hero is to be rebuilt as a viable and sustainable governance and programme co-ordinating unit for the GLBT communities. Hero in my opinion is still actually a great brand and metaphor for the demands, struggles and rewards inherent in living and expressing as GLBT. There is again no question that it has been knocked around and devalued by some in the community but the brand itself is still brilliant and well worth revitalising. So, the challenge is for the community to remember and recommit to the values of what the brand stands for and to get back in behind it in practical terms. The brand and the Hero Trust s work is only as good and valuable as we choose to make it. I have my ideas of the value and the place Hero can play in our immediate future and you will have yours. I am happy to discuss this with anyone who wants to contact me. Meanwhile I advocate consideration, appreciation and respect for all those people that have navigated the delights and demands of Hero in the past and more recently. Hero can certainly reposition and rise again to a highly effective organisation with some good thinking and collaborative work, if the will exists in the GLBT community to make it so. wants to hear your thoughts about Auckland's Hero Festival. Login to our Forum on the link below to leave your views. Richard Howard - 28th November 2008    
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