Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse listens to the submissions (foreground) along with Nikki Kaye and Anne Speir (background) While the name and how it might be funded and managed remain a topic for debate, there is a consensus that any Auckland pride festival should be held either before or after the Sydney Mardi Gras and tie in with established successful glbt events. The Gay Auckland Business Association has facilitated the second community meeting on the proposal to hold such an event in New Zealand’s biggest city, which was sparked by a push from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who has gathered bipartisan political support for the idea at both local and central government levels. The Auckland Council controlled events organisation ATEED is carrying out a feasibility study into a mardi gras type event at Kaye’s request, but it has already identified a queer festival as a gap in Auckland’s events calendar. Enthusiasm remained high among the majority of those who turned out for the meeting at Kamo on Karangahape Road, with facilitator and GABA Charitable Trust chair Gresham Bradley remarking, “it sounds like the heart might be coming back into the community,” following positive comments and a mountain of ideas. “It certainly got ripped out in 2002 … and I don’t know about you but there seems to have been a gap and something missing ever since. We tried, but without the funding it wasn’t going to happen.” Bradley listed a variety of potential festival ingredients he has been sent since the first meeting. They ranged from including current successful events such as Bear Week, Queen of the Whole Universe, the Big Gay Out and Out Takes, to adding a massive dance party, art exhibitions, Mr Gay Auckland and Ms Lesbian Auckland competitions and a picnic. There were various ideas for a parade, including a ‘love parade’ a parade on wheels of all kind, from motorbikes to Segways, and a parade which includes awareness campaigns. Some community members were adamant it should be somewhere highly visible and not hidden away somewhere. The venues mooted ranged across a number of central city locations, including Aotea Square and Karangahape Rd. There was unanimous agreement there needs to be a festival centre or hub, akin to the one at the Wellington AsiaPacific Outgames. As for how it should be run, suggestions ranged from a management team with a group of passionate volunteers, to a council-appointed manager to oversee the festival. Funding remains a major question mark, with some people at the meeting saying there should be a mixture of council funding and sponsorship, while others did not like the idea of corporate sponsors at all. However it was pointed out that such a large festival would be difficult without corporate money. Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse told the group gathered that she would seek an update from ATEED and report back to the group about the kind of funding and support might be available. “I don’t think Council is all about supporting this because it is an economic generator and a tourism provider. I think we need to be a wee bit more in touch with our community than that,” Hulse said. “It breaks my heart that the Council only provided $9,000 for the Hero Parade … I think we can do better, but I am sorry I have nothing concrete to offer,” she said as she pledged to come armed with more information at the next meeting. The third community will be held either in two or three weeks – the date will be announced on GayNZ.com. The suggestions raised so far will be collated and sent out to those who have taken part in the process so far before the next gathering.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Monday, 30th May 2011 - 8:30pm
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