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Auckland Pride to hold community forums

Fri 26 Jun 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Auckland Pride Festival is to hold three community forums in the lead-up to next year's event, and is endeavouring to increase its channels for community feedback. Linda Heavey The dates are yet to be announced, but Pride's Executive Officer Linda Heavey says it will be a chance for the community to be updated on some upcoming changes to its business model and structure. "Anyone can come. It's an opportunity for us to explain what we've been doing, where we're heading," she said during a wide-ranging interview with Daily News today. "We have been doing a lot of planning behind the scenes and so we are very close to announcing some changes to our business model, our structure, our provision. "There's some exciting stuff coming... we'll be able to share that information. But also open the floor up," she says. Pride has been criticised for a perceived lack of transparency and communication with the wider community since February's event. While has received mainly negative feedback as we have raised Pride issues, Heavey is worried this has created a skewed public impression all the feedback has been negative. She says it's been a very different story when it comes to the feedback they have received directly, which has been overwhelmingly positive. "The people who are more than happy and support us and have confidence and want to engage with us, they're talking directly to us." When it comes to communication back to the community, Heavey says they were all over it "like a rash" during the Festival, "and it's outside of that period where it's left wanting." After Pride winds up at the end of February there is a bit of a window where it's lightly resourced before work begins in earnest for the following year. Board member Paul Patton says they can only do what they can, with the resources they have. "We're relying on volunteers to be part of that." He says they have never had anything to hide, "but as we've repeatedly said - small group, volunteers, passionate, all the best will in the world. Sometimes we can't achieve what everyone would like us to achieve." But they are looking to the future. Along with the public forums, Pride is also planning to revamp its website and add a 'talk to us' section where people can offer feedback. Patton says they want people to utilise their website and as a way of engaging. "Cause that's really all we've got. We're an organisation run on the smell of an oily rag, with very, very limited funds." Heavey says at the moment people can, and do, email and call both her and board members. She says they are also looking at finding a dedicated marketing and communications person - who will ideally be a volunteer, with a view to eventually becoming better resourced all year around. "And then we are going to be much more efficient at getting messages out, and getting them out on time, and being able to respond to things. We'll be more responsive," she says, particularly over the period following the event in February and before the full team comes back on board in August. Since the last festival the remaining board members have been keeping things running. They have held debriefs with sponsors, funders, volunteers and key community groups like the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and the Gay Auckland Business Association since February, and have surveyed those who ran events as part of the Festival. There are are now new members on the Pride board - its make-up will be announced today. Pride's upcoming AGM will not be open to the public, with Heavey explaining it's a governance and business process for Board members and consultant members, rather than an open forum - which is why public forums are being planned. However Heavey's main message to the community is that the Pride team are fully committed to doing what they do, for the community. "That's why we are here." Patton adds "we are a tiny group of individuals who are passionate about doing the best. And we want to produce the best event." Heavey says that's something they can only do with community support. Daily News extensively interviewed Heavey and Pride board member Paul Patton on a number of aspects of Auckland Pride early this afternoon, we will publish more from this over the coming days.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 26th June 2015 - 5:02pm

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