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Outgames Update, August 30, 2015

Posted in: Our Communities, Out Games News
By Jay Bennie - 30th August 2015

Outgames Update August 30, 2015 - 166 days to go

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It's been a while since we were able to talk with those working to revive the Asia Pacific Outgames 2016, still penciled in for Auckland in February. You can catch up on the troubled history of the event here: Outgames Update August 7, 2015

Since our last update, on August 7th, Aucklander Craig Watson has become the driving force of the operation, with assistance and increasing direct input from a group of glbti people experienced in community organisation and events plus a few who helped create the stunningly successful Wellington Outgames in 2011.

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Craig Watson
So, what is the current situation regarding re-establishing the rebuilding and organisation and of the Asia Pacific Outgames 2016?

“I'm working with people like Vaughan Meneses, Virginia Parker-Bowles, Dion Leslie, and other people who have been involved in a lot of gay community events before and have good names in the community, and they're very confident that an event can happen in February next year,” Watson says.

GETTING THE SPORTS CORE TOGETHER

“We went out and made contact with all of the organisers of the sporting codes and they all came back saying 'We're ready to go and if the Outgames doesn't happen we'll probably just run our own competition because our own people are all excited about it.' That's why we're pretty confident that a sporting competition will happen.”

There's quite a lot to put on a high standard sports festival, especially with some supremely competitive sportspeople taking part and pushing to perform to their highest levels. The overall organisation and coordination of the sports events is a surprisingly important role.

Watson says he is still working with the Auckland Council to find the funding required “to secure our relationship” with an existing sporting organisation who can take over this oversight and management role. At last word the amount needed was in the region of $20,000.

It's a bit of a juggling act, a chicken and egg situation, as Watson and the new team try to get sufficient commitment from other organisations, including GLISA, when they themselves aren't yet a formally constituted organisation. “At the moment we don't have the basis to apply for the license to run an Outgames for GLISA. We don't have a trust set up or a bank account or a governing board. But Vaughan is working with me regarding setting up a trust and he's given me some contacts and advice on how to set up a trust to run the event.

“But it will still require the backing of a professional sporting management organisation based here in Auckland.”

Why is that organisation's involvement required?

“I don't have anyone here on my small team who is good with accounting and budgeting a sporting event. But this sporting organisation, that is what they do, that is their expertise. They are someone we can turn to and say 'What do we do here?' or 'Can you manage this part?' and they would be more than happy to do that. They have administrators who would administrate a lot of our funding applications. And they've got the leadership abilities and the connections with the major sporting organisations to help provide equipment and officials for the sporting events. In a lot of these events records records, including world records, have often been broken in the past. If we don't have the proper officials at the events any such record won't be able to be recognised. By having licensed officials there successes such as world records will count.

“Deon is fully capable of running the sporting competition, I have no doubt about that, but because he's a volunteer it makes sense to pull in this support organisation as soon as possible and get them to do what they can do to help us.”

Funding for community events is always an issue. The previous Auckland Outgames board resigned en masse after it became apparent that the originally budgeted funding had not been forthcoming. Can the new team succeed where their predecessors failed?

“Some of our volunteers work as professionals in the funding application area and have offered to step in and have already connected us to significant funder organisation CEOs... and we're talking with them about their getting in behind us.”

THE HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE

So far there has been little talk about the ancilliary aspects usually associated with the Outgames, such as a human rights conference. Has there been any progress there?

“Vaughan is taking on the Human Rights Conference aspect of the event and he and I are very confident that that will happen. The Youth Hui part of it has some issues at the moment with a tertiary institution just getting back to us to say they won't be able to support the catering side of the hui through their marae, so we're putting the call out to the city's marae to see if any of them would me able to take the youth delegates and look after them. There are over a hundred youth delegates coming from the Asia Pacific region that need accommodation... and there are about two hundred coming from within New Zealand who won't require accommodation.”

LINKS WITH THE PAST

The first person to publicly confirm that the original Outgames board had resigned and the organisation of the event had stumbled was a member of the original organising committee, Ashley Barratt. Barratt is a board member of a number of gay community organisations and works in the area of governance and accountability. What role is he now taking in pulling together this replacement organisation?

“Ashley is an adviser to us, helping us to keep the history link so if we have a question about who has been approached before or what has already been done on some aspect he can help us with that. He's also helping connect us through to people. He's incredibly helpful. I can say 'I need to know somebody who does this' and he just knows those people. I will run our media statements through him, I'll talk through our strategic planning... he is worth his weight in gold in advising us on how we should proceed and which direction we should proceed in."

And the man who first publicly floated the prospect of the Outgames coming to Auckland, Damien Strogen, who was also on the old organising committee?

“I'm working on the Outgames with his support and the support of others of the previous organising committee,” Watson says. Their role is being looked at to see how they can continue to contribute and be involved.”

Has there been any communication from the old Outgames Inc. board?

“No. It's upsetting that there isn't any communication between us. I realise that's probably because I have publicly said things that hurt them. It wasn't intentional, I was just trying to say that I disagree with the way they've dealt with things."

OUTGAMES AND AUCKLAND PRIDE

The projected start date of the Outgames is still mid February, a timing chosen so the annual Auckland Pride festival and the Outgames could be concurrent, creating in effect a mega-festival. GayNZ.com has repeatedly asked for information from Pride regarding where it stands on the Outgames difficulties but nothing has been forthcoming. Perhaps Watson can sign some light on where things stand with Auckland Pride? Is there a good relationship between Pride and the Outgames group?

“We are communicating with Pride and still working out a way to progress forward,” he says. “I would say it's a good relationship. It needs more work but there are people on the Pride board who have been very supportive in wanting to make a relationship work.”

 

Is the presence of two members of the previous Outgames board, which resigned in July, on the Pride board affecting the relationship?

“I know first hand that the other Pride board members are aware of the situation and where there is a conflict of interest and are taking the necessary steps to ensure that that is dealt with appropriately."

GLISA AND THE FINAL GO-AHEAD

And in the background is GLISA, the international glbti sport body under whose aegis each Outgames are held. They are the ones who will have the ultimate responsibility of okaying the Auckland Outgames to go ahead.

“There is a meeting in the next few days of GLISA to discuss where things are at. But I don't have any hard information to offer them because we still don't have our governance set up."

On a a scale of 1 to 100 what is Watson's confidence level that a sporting event with some cultural and human rights components will definitely go ahead?

Watson pauses for a moment. “80 percent sure”.



Jay Bennie - 30th August 2015

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