Meeting chair Gresham Bradley 7.30PM: Enthusiasm is running high for a new annual glbt celebration festival, judging by a meeting held in Auckland this evening to canvas suppport and ideas. Around fifty people representing a wide cross section of the glbt communities gathered to thrash out initial approaches to an event. Since the demise of the mammoth and long-running Hero festival a series of smaller events, including Pride in 2009 and OurFest2010 have come and gone but the announced willingness of the new Auckland supercity to seriously look at backing such an event has given renewed impetus to the concept. The council was represented at the meeting by deputy mayor Penny Hulse, who told the gathering "we are a council for everyone, including all the the rainbow parts of our community," she said. "Community-based events can bring people together and if this works for the glbt community then the council should get behind it," she said. Support for the festival was voiced by glbt businesses, organisations and gay and straight politicians including Louisa Wall, Nicki Kaye, Jacinda Ardern and members of inner-city council boards. Throughout the almost two-hour long public meeting speakers reiterated that such an event must grow out of our communities. "It must grow from the grass roots up," said event organiser Julian Cook, while others cautioned that the event, or events, must reach out to all ages and glbt lifestyles. Bruce Kilmister, who helmed the early Hero festivals, said a study done by Auckland University showed that a successful glbt festival could attract upwards of $50 million to the city. It was generally accepted that a glbt festival cannot survive without significant council financial backing, such is provided for other cultural events. A general consensus arose this evening that the event should run for at least a week and encompass as wide a variety of events as possible. It should also be highly visible in order to reinforce a sense of connected communities and to reach more isolated glbt people all around the country. Meeting chair Gresham Bradley of the Gay Auckland Business Association urged those present to use tonight as a starting point to draw ideas from their communities and contacts ready for a follow-up meeting on May 30th. "This gathering is bigger than we had expected and very, very positive," he said. "We are definitely going to achieve something!" (Editor's note, Tues: Although initially scheduled for June 6th the meeting has now been brought forward by one week to May 30th so as not to conflict with the holiday weekend.) What do you want to see? GABA is available as a collection point for ideas. Short emails with suggestions on any facets of the event can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Aspects for your feedback might include how to structure and run the event, suggested timing and dates, a name for the festival plus specific event sugegstions.
First published: Monday, 16th May 2011 - 7:25pm
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