Sebastien Provost is looking forward to two years of hard work — and smooth sailing.
Provost is the new captain at the helm of Capital Pride, the ship that seemed destined to capsize over the past few months.
He’s armed with an ambitious two-year plan with an end goal of righting the boat and professionalizing the organization. He sees Ottawa’s Pride celebration competing on the same level as Montreal and Toronto
To do that, he says, it’s time to leave the past — the infighting, insults and disorderly conduct — in the past.
“What we need is to focus on the future,” he says. That past made a lot of people — volunteers, prospective board members, sponsors — nervous about joining Pride. Provost knows, because he was one of them.
“I was scared shitless about joining this board,” he says, laughing.
Sebastien Provost says his first order of business is to get Pride's finances in order. He also wants to eliminate infighting on the board.
But many of the personal conflicts that have plagued the board have, seemingly, been solved by this year’s turnover. Only three board members stuck around. Exiting was controversial chair Loresa Novy
— who declined to be interviewed for this story, citing Xtra
’s coverage of her tumultuous reign — and board member Guy Hughes.
Provost, however, isn’t laying blame.
“You can’t blame people who have the best of intentions but who don’t have the skill set.”
Provost is looking to head off similar problems in the future. During his two-year mandate, he’s hoping to open an office and hire staff. He says that will relieve some of the stress from the board and set up its role as more vision and planning than actual event coordination.
That could be made possible by a number of generous grants from various levels of government. Provost has experience applying for, and getting, them.
That also means attracting more sponsors. He doesn’t see that as too much of a challenge.
He adds that his community involvement puts him in a perfect position to work with those sponsors. And he recognizes that he needs to reengage the community.
“I really believe that we need to communicate,” he says. He hopes that, with a little bit of hard work over the next few months, he can “turn this organization around.”
Pride’s outstanding debt has been hanging over the board for years. Provost is looking to clean it up as soon as possible; he plans to outsource the bookkeeping to an accountant and avoid the headache altogether. He hopes that, once the books are in order, he can pay off that outstanding debt and get the festival back on the path to financial sustainability.
The end product, he says, is a “world class festival” that should draw people from all over Ontario, Canada and the world.