OUR Spaces loses members

Still waiting for charitable status

Nathaniel Christopher Xtra [Vancouver, B.C.]

Vancouver’s Out Under the Rainbow Society (OUR Spaces), which aims to build a multipurpose queer community centre, acclaimed five board members at its second annual general meeting on May 29.

The new board includes incumbents James Beresford, Seán Cummings, Laura McDiarmid and Sakino Sepúlveda. Richard Engelhardt was also nominated and acclaimed. Gerry Kasten, whose term expired, chose not to run again.

OUR Spaces has 21 individual members plus two society members (Pride in Art and Screaming Weenie Productions) in good standing, compared to approximately 70 members last year.

According to McDiarmid, many of those people let their memberships lapse and need a reminder. “Every effort will be made to renew their membership,” she says.

Tony Correia noted that the drop-off happened throughout the course of the year — not all at once — and that events such as Pride will present opportunities to bring the numbers back up.

One of the challenges OUR Spaces faces is its lack of charitable tax status. “We have not achieved fundraising goals as we have no charitable status yet,” Kasten says. “As a result, donors are less likely to donate.”

On Dec 29, Revenue Canada returned OUR Spaces’ application for charitable status with a request for certified copies of all incorporation documents. Kasten says the application is now “sitting with Revenue Canada,” pending their final approval. No estimate was given on how long this might take, but David Myers noted that it took a year and a half for the original centre and Steven RodRozen said it took almost two years for the LOUD Foundation.

In spite of this, OUR Spaces has hosted three fundraisers thus far: one at Rhizome in February, a Doll & Penny’s screening hosted by Tony Correia at J Lounge in March and a dance party hosted by Michael V Smith at the WISE Hall in April. The first two events, held in the previous fiscal year, brought in $870.47. The third event, held in this fiscal year, was not a financial success.

“Unfortunately, no money was raised for that event,” James Beresford says. “Over 70 people attended, and it was remarkable considering that it was some of the worst weather we ever had.”

RodRozen pointed out that voters are facing a municipal as well as a possible provincial election over the next year and suggested the board make OUR Spaces funding an election issue.

“We met with Tim Stevenson back in December,” Beresford says. “They are very interested in seeing a centre built. They have no funding, obviously, at this time, but Tim has said he will act as a resource person.”

McDiarmid says she met with Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and that he supports the project. She also plans to approach some federal MPs for support, including Hedy Fry, Libby Davies and James Moore.

Members also discussed the issue of space. Currently OUR Spaces holds monthly meetings in the homes of members. They suggested partnering with other agencies such as the Health Initiative for Men, the Generations Project and Out on Screen to secure a regular and accessible meeting place.

The meeting concluded with a motion to create four committees to achieve these goals, including a political advocacy committee, a location committee, a volunteer committee and a fundraising committee.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.