James Stevens was a regular attender of Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend. He describes himself as a ‘proud Mancunion,’ as well as ‘proud to be part of the gay community’ and states that he donates to local gay charities and support groups every year.
But he recently wrote a letter to Manchester Pride expressing his concern and anger at less money being raised and given away to gay charities. His letter, which he also shared on Facebook states: ‘Every year, without fail, I have heard the amount raised for local charities decrease until this year when it stood at £52,000.’
|John Stewart, Chief Executive of Manchester Pride stated that there were a number of ‘inaccuracies’ in Stevens’ letter.|
He stated that the money raised for gay charities was ‘£52,000 in 2012, £105,000 in 2011, £115,000 in 2010, £135,000 in 2009 and £105,000 in 2008.’
Stewart added that ‘The greatest amount disbursed by Manchester Pride (and, indeed ever disbursed since August Bank Holiday fundraising in the Gay village was established) is £135,000 in 2009.’
Manchester Pride’s figures showed a significant drop in the amount raised for gay charities of £53,000 from 2011 to 2012.
In Stevens’ letter he asks about the reasons for the falling amount raised and given to gay charities:
‘I have heard many excuses for this decreasing donation: the “payment” of big acts who would otherwise not have attended, to pay for security, insurance and all sorts… I say this is nonsense… I dread to think what it would cost those attendees should these sponsors drop out. Are their own donations falling? Is this the reason you see fit to cut your own donations by so large an amount?’
Stewart from Manchester Pride said that the expenses of organising and running the Big Weekend event was partly the cause for the drop in donations to gay charities. He said:
‘Major festivals do not organise themselves, nor does the cost of providing entertainment on 3 stages, security etc pay for itself. We have to cover the costs of hosting what remains the UK’s leading Pride event.
The amount raised for charity is almost entirely dependent on level of tickets sales, as costs have to be covered. Once costs have been met, the entire surplus is then donated to charity.
Hence a 10% drop in ticket sales does not lead to a 10% drop in the charity amount, but a much larger percentage drop, as an effect of this gearing.’
Stewart also blamed austerity for falling income from Sponsors and festival attenders, stating:
‘Clearly, with austerity biting, people have less money to spend, as do sponsors, and Manchester Pride is not immune from the effects of this.
Clearly, we would like to raise a substantial amount for charity every year, but have to recognise that, in a challenging economic climate, attending a four day event is a considerable commitment for our patrons.’
Stewart stated that of the money raised 25% goes to the Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) for the free condom and lube scheme that sees free condoms and lube distributed to venues across Greater Manchester. He stated that 25% goes to the George House Trust (GHT) for the support of their HIV welfare fund, that gives grants to people living with HIV to pay for essential items such as clothing and bedding, or top help pay bills. He said that the other 50% was distributed to LGBT and HIV community groups and organisations across Greater Manchester through a funding application system.
Stewart stated that the decision to give 25% to the LGF and 25% to the GHT taken many years ago, and reflects the origins of Pride in Operation Fundraiser. He said that the decision was looked at again by the Trustees last year, and agreed to continue the split for another 3 years.
Stevens’ signs off his letter by writing: ‘I am extremely disheartened to say that I can no longer, in all good conscience, support Manchester Pride in light of what I have witnessed happen over the past few years.’ You can read James Stevens’ full letter here.
It should be noted that in Stevens’ letter he mentions about Manchester Pride loosing it’s charity status. Stewart in response to this stated that: ‘Manchester Pride has NEVER lost it’s charity accreditation.’
Published by: The Gay UK on Tuesday 24th September 2013.