Updated: Tuesday, 7th April 2020 @ 8:10am

We MUST go forwards: Manchester Pride director claims it's 'reckless' for charity to live in the past

We MUST go forwards: Manchester Pride director claims it's 'reckless' for charity to live in the past

Exclusive by Alan Ross

Manchester Pride’s new director claims that while they will do all they can to engage with the LGBT community, it would be ‘reckless’ for the charity to return to how it was in the past.

In an exclusive interview with MM, director of Manchester Pride Mark Fletcher admitted that at some point the charity had become ‘disengaged’ with the community and it was ‘time for change’.

However he also explained that god backwards would be foolish as audience tastes have changed and the need for a safe environment demanded that the festival focus on the future.

“I am not aware of any forward-thinking organisations or collectives that would want to go back to how things used to be,” he told MM.

Mr Fletcher took on the position in an interim capacity in November after the previous chief executive John Stewart stepped down last month.

“Right now there is a huge calling from members of the community to be involved with the festival and I don’t see any reason why they should not feel that they cannot be more involved,” he said.

“Somewhere along the line there has been disengagement, or people feel there has been disengagement, and I have tried, and still am, to look back to see when that happened and why.

“I want to make sure the engagement is there now. I want to be really clear that Manchester Pride is an organisation to promote, campaign for and celebrate LGBT life.”

Following the launch of the Be Involved campaign last week it was stressed that those organising the event were open to new ideas and suggestion from the community about Pride.

The Community Collective Panels, which will be set up in the New Year, will give members of relevant organisations the opportunity to act as a sounding board for Pride and provide ideas that could improve the event.

Listening groups, also to debut in 2014, are another way that Pride are looking to interact with those who want to have their say.

“I think it is important that individuals feel that they can give feedback and be involved throughout the year,” Mr Fletcher said.

“We cannot get enough feedback if people are this passionate and want to have their voice then we will do all that we can to engage with them.

“Every last bit of feedback will be read. We have a dedicated team of four that will review every last suggestion, idea and piece of feedback that comes through from this campaign to process it all, evaluate it, and see what changes we can implement.”

Although Pride’s charity donations fell again in 2013 for the fourth straight year, there has been positive feedback about the event, with some claiming it was one of the best yet.

“One of the initiatives that then event managers worked on this year was the dance arena and some said that it has ‘changed their life’,” he said.

Further fundraising initiatives are in the works with the emphasis placed upon smaller events and the organisation are happy to provide help for those who want to push the total  beyond this year’s ‘disappointing’ amount. 

The organisers are aiming to reduce the cost of the festival further with £60,000 already cut from the price tag since 2011 and links to sponsors are being investigated to bear some of the burden of staging Pride.

However, Mr Fletched explained how cuts have a limit because most artists play at the Big Weekend for free or just expenses and he will not compromise on providing a safe space for the thousands that attend.

“We understand that many people may not think that it is for them but thousands and thousands think it is,” he continued.

“We cannot overlook the people who expect and demand an element of entertainment across the Big Weekend.

“We need to not forget that tens of thousands of people come to the Big Weekend and it is a brilliant and successful event – there is no doubt about that.”

 

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Picture courtesy of Kevin Smith, with thanks.

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