Meeting called over concerns about insensitive comments and WinterPRIDE 

Event organizer to meet with Mayor to discuss comments, future of gay ski week

click to enlarge news_whistler3.jpg

WinterPRIDE organizer Dean Nelson is meeting with top officials this week to discuss questionable comments made in closed-door discussions around funding the resort's iconic gay festival.

"We're looking to understand more about the comments and what it means," said Nelson.

"We'll find out on Thursday what the municipality has to say."

That's the day he'll be meeting Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and municipal CAO Mike Furey to discuss hand-written comments on a municipal document which state: "drag queens are lewd comedians" and "caution about interaction with families."

The latter refers to the timing of WinterPRIDE 2013, which fell on the inaugural Family Day long weekend in February this year.

"Of course they're a concern," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the comments. "We've hosted WinterPRIDE for 21 years and I personally, in my tenure as mayor, have been very supportive of that festival... We celebrate diversity and so a comment like that is disappointing."

The handwritten scrawl appears on a 2013 FE&A (Festivals, Events & Animation) Augmentation Assessment and only came to light through a Freedom of Information request. The assessment was part of the 12-person FE&A Working Group's discussion around Nelson's request for up to $100,000 in augmentation funding for the WinterPRIDE festival. Members of the Working Group include representatives from the municipality as well as Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb, the museum, the Chamber and others.

WinterPRIDE received no money this year.

"Getting absolutely nothing is really a slap in the face," said Nelson.

"It just doesn't seem really fair... All that we're looking for is that we're treated with equal respect for all our efforts and right now I'm not really seeing that."

He is particularly frustrated about that in light of the numbers in the Economic Impact Assessment of WinterPRIDE showing the festival provides a $4.6 million industry output in the province and a $2.4 million impact in Whistler.

"I'm not surprised," said Nelson "It's pretty much exactly what we've been saying for the last decade."

Nelson can't help but compare his festival to other festivals that got municipal augmentation money in 2013, but don't have as much impact, according to their Economic Impact Assessments.

"This meeting on Thursday will hopefully make it a little more clear as to why these different festivals get funding when we don't," said Nelson.

CAO Mike Furey also spoke to the issue this week but was clear: "They (the comments on the assessment document) had no bearing whatsoever in how we determined the funding of that event."

When pressed to speak on the nature of the remarks, Furey refrained from commenting but reinforced the message that WinterPRIDE is "an important component of our resort's annual calendar.

"We really welcome continued discussions with the producers going forward."

Nelson had requested in the range of $30,000 to $100,000 in funding to boost occupancy mid-week during the festival; he confirmed this week that singer/songwriter Adam Lambert had been on stand-by to attend.

One of the reasons for not funding WinterPRIDE in 2013 was that it fell, in part, on the same weekend as the new Family Day stat, making for a busy resort.

Nelson has changed the date of the 2014 festival so as not to coincide with Family Day.

Traditionally held in the first week of February, WinterPRIDE 2014 will now take place from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2.


Readers also liked…

Latest in Whistler

More by Alison Taylor

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation