Manchester Pride are being accused of ‘tossing charities aside’ –as they face backlash over plummeting donations revealed in their BIg Weekend 2013 account figures.
Campaigners argue that the flagship Big Weekend event focuses purely on attracting costly famous acts causing LGBT charity donations to drop.
The audit accounts reveal Pride have net assets of £25,176 compared with £45,819 in 2012 and last October the organisation announced only £34,000 was given in charity donations, 35% lower than last year’s figure.
Total donations have dropped continuously since 2009 and campaigners including Julia Grant, former Gayfest CEO in 2000 and 2001, was disappointed with the delay and the end figures.
“Why are people not screaming from the rooftops? It just does not make sense. Pride are getting away with this because they are a registered charity – it’s disgraceful,” said the former Hollywood Showbar owner.
“Every year they are losing money – and the worst part is that charities are losing out.
“People need to make a stand. The council won’t do anything because millions of pounds are brought into the city over the Big Weekend but that goes to businesses – not the charities that need it most.”
The Pride annual 2012/13 review states that while £1,032,540 went out in expenditure only £996,063 was collected in revenue and Ms Grant believes that these figures are detrimental to the LGBT community.
“Clearly Pride are overspending on the event and are running at a loss which is risking the whole event,” said the former Hollywood International Hotel owner.
“They need to know how to control the spending properly – they should be thinking about ways they can raise money for charity instead of bringing in the biggest most famous expensive acts.
“Of course there needs to be entertainment at the Big Weekend but over the last few year’s charity has been almost forgotten about.
“Pride is killing the event and what it is really meant to be about.”
The review also exposed that £82,779 was raised in revenue by fundraising activity yet charities received less than half of this.
Geoff Stafford, the co-founder of Facts about Manchester Pride Group, is concerned that many charities will find it hard to survive in the current economic climate.
“The amount donated is so miniscule now and divided by so many. These are desperate times in the current economic crisis so they need it more than ever,” said the former Features Editor for Video Camera magazine.
“We wanted to have all the accounts in December because we wanted time for a proper discussion about what we might do but they denied us that opportunity and then we have the Pride PR stunt of the listening groups in January and it is too late.
“The saddest thing is that I and others have been campaigning for a number of years about Pride and if action had been taken just think how much money we could have raised for charity – it’s heart-breaking.”
Large sums of money have been donated in the past and Ms Grant, who helped raise £191,000 in 2000/01 during Gayfest, expressed surprise that charities and the LGBT community have not spoken out about the stark drop in donations.
“Why are charities and members of the public not screaming out? I realise we are in difficult economic times but Pride get so much in revenue and where is it all going? It just doesn’t add up and people need to question this,” Ms Grant argued.
“We deserve to know the truth and simply cannot turn a blind eye anymore. It is about time the community bucked up and take over the event themselves.
“In 2000 and 2001 we managed to do it so there is no reason why we can’t do it again. It’s disappointing because Manchester Pride promised at the listening groups to be transparent and they have been anything but.”
The George House Trust (GHT) and The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) were the main benefactors from the 2013 Big Weekend and according to their website received £8,500 each in donations with the remaining 50% being distributed in community grants.
Both charities declined to comment on the decrease in donations from previous years.
In 2008 Body Positive spoke out but it is no longer running, and Mr Stafford believes that it is damaging for charities to remain silent.
“There are quite clearly serious problems with Manchester Pride and donations and the LGF are saying that they are staying neutral but not saying anything is not being neutral,” the campaigner said.
“By being silent is taking a stance and deciding to be quiet about what’s going on. There are all sorts of events in history when people ask ‘why didn’t anyone say anything?’ and this is another one.
“I hope we don’t just have the deck chairs moved around on the Titanic and it just continues in this way.
“I hope we can really have a genuine engagement with a cross section of the community and have them represented on the Pride board.”
Complaints were made to Manchester Council concerning the four-day festival and it was passed onto the Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee, however the former journalist believes it was unfairly reported.
“They released the minutes from the meeting and it’s simple a glowing praise of Pride – it isn’t holding it to account or being critical in any way,” he said.
“It was also factually inaccurate because they describe it as ‘the biggest event of its kind in the world’ which is not true at all.
“The council knows how much money the event pulls in for businesses in the city and they have just tossed charities aside and that is what should be at the heart of the event surely?”
Tickets for the four-day centre piece of the festival are available at £16, the same price as they were in 2013, for a limited period but Mr Stafford hopes there will be a shake-up of the Pride board in the near future.
“Information is power and by denying the community information they are making us powerless however everyone can now clearly see the worrying state of Pride,” he said.
“The problem ultimately lies with the board and I would like to see is the community choosing the members because it is the board that determines the policies.
“There are lots of good people in the community who could run this but we need to make sure all the factions need to come together and talk, enough is enough.”
MM contacted Pride but they declined to comment.
Picture courtesy of Man Alive!, with thanks
Video courtesy of Ilovethevillage, with thanks