3: The Organisation

3: The Organisation

3.1: Pan Idræt

Pan Idræt was established in 1984 by a group of gay men. They decided to form their own swimming team, as they were rejected by mainstream swimming teams due to fear of HIV and AIDS. Pan Idræt’s original objective was to build a safe space for gay men and lesbians where they could play sports – unfortunately back in 1984 there was not much understanding of gay men and lesbians in sports.

Pan Idræt soon became popular and experienced an incredible growth in membership and started organising other sports as well. Today, Pan Idræt is the joint name for two multi-sports clubs (Pan Idræt København and Pan Idræt Frederiksberg) and offers more than 25 different sports or activities to more than 1,450 members and it is increasingly acknowledged outside of our community: in 2015 Pan Idræt were awarded the title of Danish Champions of Club Development, named Association of the Year by DGI Copenhagen, and were nominated for the Culture Minister’s Sports Award in 2016.

Athletes from Pan Idræt have taken part in the EuroGames for decades and Pan Idræt hosted a successful EuroGames in 2003 with more than 2,000 participants. Furthermore, Pan Idræt were instrumental in the success of World OutGames Copenhagen 2009, when Pan Idræt managed the logistics of much of the sporting events for more than 5,500 participants from more than 90 countries. In 2014 Pan Idræt organised Pan Games to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary with more than 1,500 participants from all over Europe. Furthermore, the various sports disciplines organised by Pan Idræt regularly host international tournaments.

Pan Idræt’s activities are for the most part organised in the more than 25 sports sections that the club contains. Our members are therefore part of several community groups – both the overall community that transcends all the various sports and the individual communities for each particular sport or team.

Pan Idræt is not a club for professional or elite sports and Pan idræt focuses on creating an inclusive and safe space for sporting ambitions and strong social relationships. Memberships and interest are increasing every year. Despite COVID19 and the closure of sports activities for several months in 2020/2021, Pan Idræt has managed to keep most of its members and lots of the members were involved in executing EuroGames 2021 and volunteering for Copenhagen 2021 in general.

Today Pan Idræt is a modern sports club trying to move on from the LGBT concept which can be felt to exclude some people – instead they focus on the inclusion of all with a special focus on sexual orientation and gender diversity and Pan Idræt sees an increasing interest from trans people, among others.

3.2: Copenhagen Pride

In 1996, Copenhagen was awarded the title as European City of Culture and the committee in charge of organizing the event, made a call for events that could help create attention around the Culture-city year. Financial support for selected projects was also promised. In collaboration between the Culture City organizers and a group connected to the Danish National Gay and Lesbian Organization made a bid for being elected hosts of EuroPride in Copenhagen during the European Culture year. The bid was successful.

1996 was not the first Pride celebration in Copenhagen. All the way back in 1971, the Association of 1948 and soon after the Danish chapter of the Gay Liberation Front had organised so called Christopher Street Day celebrations on the Copenhagen Common in the centre of Copenhagen. (The name was inspired by Christopher Street in New York City, the location of the Stonewall Inn, that formed the battle ground in the so-called Stonewall uprising, which in 1970 became the inspiration for the very first Pride Parade in New York City). Except for the occasional year with a demonstration down Strøget, the central shopping and pedestrian street in Copenhagen, parades were not a feature of the first Christopher Street Day celebrations, which primarily had the character of a social gathering in the park with picnic baskets, speeches and political songs accompanied by the guitars, that were so characteristic for the era.

Visibility was as important then as to the present day pride movement: to be public and unapologetically live your life and express your sexuality publicly.

The extensive EuroPride Parade in 1996, that was the consequence of being the host of the European Pride celebration, and which took the route from Frederiksberg City Hall to Copenhagen City Hall via Frederiksberg Allé and Vesterbrogade, in many ways became the first Pride Parade in Copenhagen and would set the standard for parades over the next 25 years.

In the following year, 1997, there was no Culture City Committee and also no financial support. There was, however, a strong determination to uphold a Pride movement in Copenhagen. Therefore the organisation Copenhagen Pride was founded (from 1998-2004 the name was Mermaid Pride), and the organisation will henceforth become the organisers of an annual Pride festival in Copenhagen with a music festival, political speeches and a parade through the city.

Over the past 25 years, the organisation, which is still 100% led by volunteers, transformed into an organisation, that delivers activities on 50 days every year, that organises Copenhagen Pride Week in August and Copenhagen Winter Pride Week in February and which has become the largest annual festival in Copenhagen. Simultaneously the organisation has also developed a political power and has built a brand and a credibility nationally as well as internationally, that ensured that we could bid for and win the right to host WorldPride in Copenhagen 2021 and raise the necessary funds to execute the event.

Copenhagen Pride is run by a volunteer board of directors and more than 75 volunteers in positions of responsibility, who plan, run and execute the activities of the organisation throughout the year. 

3.3: Two bids, one combined vision

During the summer of 2014, the idea was born in Copenhagen Pride to bid on a WorldPride in 2021 to celebrate the association’s 25th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the first Christopher Street Day celebrations in Denmark.

To begin with, it was an internal idea in Copenhagen Pride, but which was later tested in conversations with a number of politicians, including the then Mayor of Culture and Leisure in Copenhagen, Carl-Christian Ebbesen, and the member of the Citizens’ Representation, Tommy Petersen. There were also conversations with former Culture and Leisure Mayor, Pia Allerslev, who had been mayor during World OutGames in Copenhagen in 2009. From all sides, support was expressed for the idea, and that a WorldPride could easily be something that the city would support, especially if it was an event that had broad support in the LGBTI + community.

Pan Idræt turned 30 years old in 2014 and held Pan Games in Copenhagen on that occasion. The event was held during Copenhagen Pride week and it created a good synergy. The participating athletes also expressed that it had been beneficial that in this way there were more relevant activities outside the sports competitions. At the same time, Pan Games showed that Pan Idræt had good conditions for holding successful events, which had also previously been made clear during previous tournaments in Copenhagen.

In connection with Copenhagen Pride week 2014, informal discussions were also initiated with Mayor Frank Jensen about the possibility of Copenhagen participating in World OutGames Miami 2017, as OutCity, an initiative that was born during World OutGames 2009 in Copenhagen and continued in recent events.

The most successful international LGBTI + event in Denmark up to this time had been World OutGames 2009, which united sport with Pride, human rights and culture. As a result of the collaboration that had taken place between Pan Idræt and Copenhagen Pride in 2014, the idea was born to offer a EuroGames to take place at the same time as WorldPride, so that we could build directly on previous experiences and create an event that had great relevance for more.

In the autumn months of 2014, the chair of Copenhagen Mermates (Pan Idræt’s swimming group), Søren Aare Jensen (member of Pan Idræt’s board) and Lars Henriksen (chair of Copenhagen Pride), sat down together to prepare a project draft, partly for the OutCity initiative, partly for to seek political support for bids on WorldPride and EuroGames, and not least financial support to write and run the bidding process. It was also in this context that a theme competition was launched, which ended with the now well-known message: #YouAreIncluded.

From April 2015, Pan Idræt’s chair, Carsten Friis Overby, was also involved in the work, which resulted in the formation of the project organisation Happy Copenhagen, which is jointly owned by Copenhagen Pride and Pan Idræt, to run the work of the joint event on behalf of the two owners’ associations. In April, Wonderful Copenhagen also declared its support for the project and wrote a statement of support, which was attached to a formal application to the Mayor for financial support for bidding and settlement.

On 6 May 2015, the founding general meeting of Happy Copenhagen was held with the election of a board of directors consisting of three representatives of Copenhagen Pride and three representatives of Pan Idræt. The association’s first chairperson was Mads Kildegaard.

There were several reasons for founding an independent project organisation:

  • To ensure an equal decision-making structure
  • To establish a cross-cutting project organization that could establish the integrated event as one single event and not two parallel events
  • To ensure a structure that created financial transparency for contributors so that it was clear that funds provided for the project went to the development and settlement of the same and did not constitute a disguised support to the owners’ associations
  • To minimize the owners organisations’ financial risk if the joint event ended up not being able to secure the finances.
  • To create a co-operation forum that could create a common feeling and an understanding of the co-operation benefits for both owner organisations

On 4 June 2015, Happy Copenhagen was invited to a meeting with Culture and Leisure Mayor Carl Christian Ebbesen to discuss the application and to explain about the new association.

As a result of the meeting, on 14 June the draft agreement arrived, according to which the City of Copenhagen granted DKK 500,000 to Happy Copenhagen from the Pool for Attracting Major International Events. The money is initially allocated to the establishment of the organisation, preparation of the application for budget negotiations in September and project draft for Copenhagen as Outcity in World OutGames in Miami in 2017.

During the summer of 2015, Søren Aare Jensen was employed full time to run the project and from September 2015 also Lars Henriksen. A project description was prepared for the period up to 2018, when the bids for both events have to be submitted.

In October 2015, the project, represented by Copenhagen Pride, participated in the InterPride General Assembly, where we publicly declared our intention to bid for WorldPride 2021. The same declaration was made at the EPOA (European Pride Organisers Association) General Assembly in September, prompting Stockholm Pride to shelve a discussion they had had about bidding, but instead backing up Copenhagen. Oslo Pride was also quick to express support, and thus the idea was formulated that Copenhagen Pride’s bid for a WorldPride should be seen as a regional bid – in the sense that it enjoyed support throughout the region, which would benefit positively from a WorldPride in Scandinavia.

On 24 November 2015, the first joint meeting between the boards of Pan Idræt, Copenhagen Pride and Happy Copenhagen was held with the following agenda items:

  • Information about the project
  • Vision for the project
  • Schedule and establishment of PR steering group.

Most of the meeting was used to formulate the big visions for the project and ensure that the values ​​and ambitions of both owner associations became clear in the further work of formulating bid documents, event descriptions and applications for additional funds.

From 1 March 2016 a head of secretariat, Lars Christian Østergreen, was hired with responsibility for running the bidding process, writing bid documents, applying for funds and anchoring the project in the two owner associations. He was also responsible for building up the organisation and putting together the secretariat that was necessary to ensure progress. In April 2016, Søren Aare Jensen’s employment ended, and over the summer there was a temporary communications employee, until Martin Xaver Dover was hired in August as communications manager and as the one who was to coordinate the work of collecting the material for the bid documents.

The task was now to write two bids, which signaled strong event identities for both WorldPride and EuroGames, so it was clear that the two events together would create a synergy effect. We were to bid to two licensing organizations with strong self-esteem, and it was important that they both saw their event in a prominent and advantageous situation in the overall event.

At the same time, it was a real possibility that we would end up winning one, but not the other event. Therefore, it was also important to write bids that clearly showed that we collaborated, but that the events were not interdependent in order to be successful. It should be clear that both events could be carried out with flying colors, even if the other event did not take place at the same time in Copenhagen.

In addition, plans were to be made for both a joint and a separate promotional campaign for the two events, and meetings were to be held with a host of stakeholders.

Wonderful Copenhagen was responsible for the more formal parts of the bid documents, ie. all calculations, logistics sections, etc. just as they were the ones who helped with layout and setup.

Lars Henriksen was responsible for the involvement of the other organizations in the LGBTI + environment, for the political anchoring of the project, for contact with Copenhagen cultural partners and for relations in the Pride movement

Christian Bigom (chair of Pan Idræt) took care of the relations in the LGBTI+ sports movement, as well as the many sports federations and organisations.

Martin Xaver Dover gathered the content, wrote the text so that it became coherent, ensured overview, had collaborated with Wonderful Copenhagen and was responsible for the external communication of the bids.

The owner associations were responsible for communicating the project to their own organisations and for ensuring that the things they gave high priority to in the bids were given the space they needed.

The discussions were many – it was crucial that core values, such as inclusion, diversity, representation and what we meant by #YouAreIncluded were clarified between the owner associations, so that we announced with similar attitudes and practices. There is a different culture for working with many of these things in the Pride movement than is always possible in the sports movement, where you are also subject to rules and guidelines that you do not have control over, but which you have to control yourself. In this process, the creation of Happy Copenhagen proved indispensable because a forum had been created that could dismantle potential conflicts.

It was also as part of this process that the four independent pillars, each with its own head of department, were formulated: Pride, Sport, Culture and Human Rights. This construction was to prove to have many advantages, but it was a challenge, despite all the cross-cutting functions: production, communication, etc., to break down the silos, which the organisational structure also created, and ensure a good and open cooperation between the various parts of the event. This was further complicated by the fact that funding came gradually and that it was therefore different how strong the various pillars were and how much capacity they worked with, simply because, recruitment came in step with funding being secured.

In October 2017 Copenhagen Pride won the right to host WorldPride and in March 2018 Pan Idræt won the right to host EuroGames, and thus the bidding visions were accepted by the licensing organisations, as the framework we worked within worked in the process of planning the event.

3.5: Happy Copenhagen

As described above, Happy Copenhagen had been particularly supported by the City of Copenhagen, but also by the City of Malmö and the Capital Region in the bidding process towards winning the licenses for WorldPride and on EuroGames. After this happened, the secretariat in the run-up to the execution phase was mainly financed by the City of Copenhagen, the City of Malmö, the Capital Region, as well as the Danish state and commercial partnerships.

After several years of bidding and building the secretariat, the focus shifted in 2020 to preparing the organization for execution in 2021, and was strongly influenced by the COVID19 pandemic’s impact – both on the secretariat’s daily work, but also on the uncertainty in working with partners. This meant that on several occasions the secretariat had to set aside significant resources to restructure budgets and qualify these in collaboration with partners, and prepare the event for several scenarios, based on possible restrictions during delivery in August 2021.

Therefore, a number of budgetary priorities and project plan changes have been necessary, which in general put the project behind the work of meeting the level of ambition presented in the bid books for hosting WorldPride and EuroGames. Nevertheless, it is worth emphasising that progress continued on all parameters in the project planning, and the conclusion is that the set main priorities were reached every year.

It has been a prerequisite for the development of the project that the organization was ready for the number and composition of employees in the association to change towards the delivery in 2021. At the beginning of 2020, it was further clear that there was a need to strengthen focus on the specific project planning and delivery, which is why, by mutual agreement, a change of director took place in March 2020.

The owner organizations, after careful consideration over the summer of 2020, agreed that the organisational implications of a change of director, attributed to the uncertainty due to lack of grants and sponsorships due to COVID19 uncertainty, were so great that the anticipated improvements that a change of director would bring had not been achieved, and the owner organisations moved even closer to the project, as well as increasing focus on project plan and financial management. Thus, the structure was finally changed from 1 October 2020 so:

  • The overall day-to-day management was executed by a working chairperson who divided responsibilities among themselves, rather than a director.
  • Happy Copenhagen had four project managers, who were given full program responsibility for each of their pillars, as well as a production manager and a communications manager, who were responsible for each of their subject areas. These subject and project managers were part of the management team, along with the organisation’s operations manager.
  • The working chairperson was responsible for financial management and budgeting, while bookkeeping was handled externally.
  • The operations manager was responsible for administrative matters and for establishing the practical framework necessary for project planning.

In addition, the cross-cutting project manager ensured that synergies were achieved across the organisation.

The division in Happy Copenhagen’s organisation was based on commitments from the bid books for EuroGames and WorldPride and to the two owner organisations Copenhagen Pride and Pan Idræt. Our four programs were Sports, Human Rights, Pride and Arts and Culture, while our four special areas were Production, Volunteering, Security and Communications.

To ensure tools for following up on progress and the economy, progress reports and opportunity reports were implemented at the end of 2020, which ensured solid management of project plans, budgets and commercial partnerships.

The board of Happy Copenhagen was composed on the basis of competencies, and all board members contributed with sparring in subject areas and specialist areas. This is to strengthen the involvement of the owner organizations, knowledge sharing between the board and the secretariat, as well as to ensure progress.

Organisational diagram

In addition to the Copenhagen secretariat, Malmö City and Malmö Pride were partners with their own secretariat to handle the activities in Malmö.

The progression of employees went from two full time equivalents (FTE) in 2015, then continuous building of the secretariat, from 22 FTE in 2020 and 45 FTE when financing was fully in place in 2021. During the delivery itself, Copenhagen 2021 also employed 138 full-time employees and trainees, in addition to a large number of freelancers, performers, speakers, guests and 1000+ volunteers.

3.6: Safety

In 2020, we partnered with RF Experience, who every year build Roskilde Festival from an empty field to a huge festival ‘city’. RF Experience has delivered crowd safety management and safety plans for everything from festivals to football matches and classical concerts to the opening of Copenhagen Metro’s City Ring. They have more than 200 annual security jobs and decades of solid experience from Roskilde Festival with planning, design, regulatory dialogue, capacity calculation, project management, event security, queue handling, execution and documentation. This partnership was even more important in view of the impact of COVID19.

In collaboration with Happy Copenhagen’s production team, RF Experience prepared extensive safety and capacity analyses to plan the handling of the expected large crowds during the event and especially the Parade. In addition, there have been many major changes due to COVID19, which RF Experience have been an integral part in handling, especially in interpreting COVID19-restrictions and aligning the event with changing restrictions.

3.7: Transport and accommodation

By the time our bids were presented, Wonderful Copenhagen had already secured almost 50,000 hotel nights in Copenhagen for the participants in Copenhagen 2021. During lockdown it became more and more clear to us that the participants would book their accommodation very late and as close to the event as possible, due to the ever-changing and tough travel restrictions. This meant that most hotels withdrew from our pre-booked rooms and sold rooms directly via other channels with same day cancellation conditions, which they would not offer to our hotel booking platform.

We had a very good corporation with DOT transport (the joint Danish public transport agency), and we were able to offer a discounted transport solution to our participants during the event, which was very popular. More than 60 % of the international EuroGames participants bought this ticket and gave good reviews on this solution.

3.8: Royal Patronage      

In 2016, the secretariat began to discuss the possibility of requesting royal patronage for the event. We agreed that the most obvious patron, by virtue of what she was otherwise engaged in, would be HRH The Crown Princess of Denmark, or possibly TRH The Crown Prince and Crown Princess together.

We consulted several different colleagues who we knew had knowledge of how to contact the Court about such matters. We got good help from the then Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who had also recorded support videos in connection with the bidding campaign and whose government also contributed early with the first state funds for the promotion and planning of the event. The Prime Minister explained that the procedure was usually to contact the Court directly about a patronage, after which the Court contacts the Prime Minister’s Office to hear whether there are things that one should be aware of in connection with the patronage. However, the Prime Minister promised, on this occasion, to mention the government’s support for Copenhagen 2021 to TRH The Crown Prince and Crown Princess’ head of department Michael Schønau.

In May 2016, the Danish government hosted the international IDAHOT conference. HRH The Crown Princess gave the keynote address at the Admiral Hotel. Many Danish LGBTI+ organizations also participated in the conference, and some of us were invited to meet HRH The Crown Princess and briefly tell her about our work. As chair of Copenhagen Pride, Lars Henriksen was invited and spent the time briefing Her Royal Highness on the ongoing bid for WorldPride and EuroGames, and asked if she would be interested in being kept up to date on developments in the project. HRH The Crown Princess agreed and from that time we started sending written updates two or three times a year to the Court.

After winning the right to hold both events in March 2018, we continued this briefing, while securing the financial foundation for the event, which we considered crucial for a member of the Royal House to even consider lending their support to the events. At the end of 2018, we were so far that we could send a formal inquiry to the Court and in January 2019 we were invited to a meeting at the royal palace, Amalienborg, about what such protection entailed and a mutual discussion on expectations. Then the head of the court would talk to the Crown Princess about the inquiry and return. In April, the answer came when the head of the court announced that the Crown Princess had decided to take on the role of patron of the event. We were invited to another meeting on joint announcement and future cooperation.

In the next 18 months leading up to the event, we had an ongoing dialogue with HRH The Crown Princess’ Court, and the Crown Princess also participated in various events: she visited the project office and met the entire team behind the event, she recorded a speech for Global Pride in 2020 and we discussed what events the Crown Princess could attend during the event. It was taken into account that the Crown Princess participated in a variety of events across the event and the possibilities were many. In the end, we agreed that the Crown Princess participated in:

  • Opening of the Human Rights Forum on Monday 16 August in the UN City, Nordhavn.
  • Opening, including opening speeches, of the Human Rights Conference on Tuesday 17 August in Øksnehallen.
  • Participates in the City of Copenhagen’s Reception at Copenhagen City Hall on 18 August
  • Visit to Bellahøj Swimming Stadium and Halls and attend the swimming and water polo and handball tournament on 20 August
  • Speech at the Closing Ceremony in Fælledparken on 21 August.

Header image: Andreas Paulsson

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