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Pride Festival may start small until Council is ready

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 19th July 2011

The proposed Auckland Pride Festival may kick off early next year in a small initial format without financial backing of Auckland Council.

The Council's Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) division has signalled that it will not be ready to do an econmic feasibility assessment until November when the Rugby World Cup is finished. This makes Council funding for the project, which has considerable support politically from the Mayor down, unlikely to be in place by February/March, the dates preferred by several community meetings held recently to canvass ideas for an Auckland glbt festival.

"I'm not surprised that ATEED won't be starting to evaluate the project until after the Rugby World Cup," says Pride Festival steering group chair Gresham Bradley. "But we could still have an initial Pride Festival next year, though not a full-blown festival as envisaged." He says there is much work to be done by the Council and the glbt community towards a full-scale event, "and we don't yet know what budgets and timelines the Council might be working towards."

In a letter forwarded to the steering group yesterday ATEED Chief Executive Michael Redman has committed his Major Events Team to begin discussions with the steering group "to establish some shared understandings on the way forward and to support the community in developing the concept." Bradley says he hopes the steering group can meet with the ATEED team as soon as possible. "We're very happy to meet with them," he says. "We're just starting on the path to a Festival and this sort of involvement by ATEED is just what we had hoped for."

Meanwhile, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says she is taking a less forthright role in the Festival development process now that the steering group is formed and ATEED is working on its side of the project. It was Kaye who first mooted the idea of such a glbt festival and who made a personal representation to Auckland Council asking it to follow through on its identification of a glbt festival as a desirable major event for the city.

Kaye says the project has "strong cross-party support" in Parliament and she is pleased to see the progress made so far.

The interim glbt steering group of ten volunteers will convene for their first formal meeting tonight.

You can discuss this New Zealand glbt community news story in the Forum

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