PREXIT! Manchester Pride has failed to manage people’s expectations in a world of Leavers and Remainers

Prexit means Prexit.

The LGBT community have been thrust into two separate camps by Manchester Pride. No, not Leave and Remain – but those willing to splash out over £70 for a ticket and those who refuse to do so.

It is, for lack of a better word, our very own Prexit.

This all started in August 2018, when organisers told festival-goers that the upcoming Big Weekend would be the last to be held on the Sackville Street car park. “The shape of the festival is changing and we can’t wait to share our big news in the autumn,” a statement read at the time.

It’s fair to say that since then organisers have – and still are – failing to manage people’s expectations. They’re not as culpable as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox saying the Brexit deal would be ‘one of the easiest in human history’, but they do hold some responsibility for leading people down the garden path.

After rumours ran wild for months about where the action would move to (Manchester Arena? Platt Fields Park? Castlefield Bowl?), the rather anticlimactic location was announced last month: Mayfield Depot.


MAYFIELD DEPOT: The new home of Manchester Pride Live

Many already knew about this up and coming venue, but for others – a lot of which had let their imaginations run wild – a quick online search gave them their first cold dose of reality. This was not the location they believed they deserved or would be getting.

It seems that for some no venue is better than a bad venue.

Despite the promise from Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher that the event – now dubbed Manchester Pride Live – would ‘be one of the most innovative projects we have delivered to date and our intention is to make it a world-leading celebration of LGBT+ life,’ there was already whispers of a boycott at this point just because of the venue.

Then came the ticket prices.

It was a slap in the face for those in the pre-sale queue to see that two-day passes had been hiked up to £70.95 with the booking fee factored in. This is more than double the £34.50 that tickets cost to last year’s four-day Big Weekend. This, of course, was the first indication that there was a hefty price for leaving the Gay Village.

GONE: The day of dancing in the car park are no more

The move did accomplish something in the sense that – just like Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement – it united both sides of the argument. Whether you thought the Mayfield Depot was the right or wrong venue, you were willing to concede that the ticket price was too high.

Organisers haven’t appeared sympathetic. It’s still ‘less than the price of an average concert ticket’ one statement read, as if this will convince struggling students or the unemployed to part with their cash. Inclusivity doesn’t come cheap, eh?

There’s been a clear backlash over the past few days, to the point where organisers have had to come out to defend the price hike. A statement read: “Manchester Pride Live is a brand new event that will play host to a line up of internationally renowned artists.” So what exactly will the LGBT community get in reward for blindly giving away their hard-earned money?

Cher? Kylie Minogue? £350m-a-week for the NHS?

RETURN?: Ariana is rumoured to be the ace up the sleeve of Manchester Pride

No, Ariana Grande (if the rumours are to be believed).

The Sun first reported that the singer was in talks to play at the event in August. Ariana has herself added fuel to the fire after announcing her European tour in December. “Manchester is not on this initial list because we are planning a special show,” she teased. The 25-year-old is still conspicuously free on Sunday, August 25…

Ariana would undoubtedly be a great catch and the ends could potentially justify the means. She is the human form of a big fancy trade deal with the United States. Until this is confirmed though, the organisers at Manchester Pride are failing to manage people’s expectations.

First the venue fell short, then the ticket prices hit a nerve. What’s next if the line up – even with Ariana – still feels hollow and doesn’t command the price tag?

It might be time for the LGBT community to start managing their own expectations…

*Mayfield Depot image courtesy of Rachel Docherty, with thanks.

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