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Manchester Pride a “purely commercial operation” claims gay business leader

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  1. MafiaWatch 29 Aug 2008, 5:40pm

    The conection between Manchester Pride and Marketing Manager (the tourist board) seem a little close for comfort. Did they kill it deliberately? Does it use the front of raising money (and a tiny amount compared to what they used to, and what people believe) to pay public servants’ wages?

    Having gone last week I was particularly unimpressed that having payed £22 just to get into the gay “village”, most of the bars wanted more money before they’d let you into their venues. I thought road pricing only applied to cars not LGBT people?

    The businesses seem as dissapointed by Pride Manchester as everyone else.

    And this website made me even more shocked – http://www.g7uk.com/manchester-pride-investigation.shtml

  2. I attended and enjoyed it immensely but the entry ticket is a rip off and the prices in the bars were often extortionate. The businesses in this area and hotels and restaurants etc etc all make significant profits on the day so the event should be free to enter.

  3. How much to get in??? It really does sound like you would have had a cheaper weekend in Ibiza. I could understand it, if you then had lots of dance tents, with like, the world’s finest DJs flown over specially for the weekend…. but really i do not understand this at all. And then paying to get into venues on top of that is a sheer disgrace. Last time I went to manchester pride was 1998, there was none of this paying to get in then.

    You do not need to spend hundreds of thousands on a party really. You’ve been fleeced.

  4. Stopped going for the last 5 years. It is just a way of ripping of the LGBT community. A good time can be had but you need s very full wallet and at the end it will be empty. Its ££££££ all the way now.

  5. most of my friends (manchester gays) don’t go any more. Thats about 12 people. A good time can be had but at a price. Its money, money, money and locals are refusing to pay the rediculous prices.

  6. Some gay activists have being saying that ‘pride’ events had sold out to institutions (like police) and funders and no longer had anyhthing to do with its roots, for a long time.

  7. To be Netherlands , which is the main gay event on the Monday of the annual week-long fair. It’s free, it’s inclusive, and straights, gays, whatever all join in the fun and there are lots of street parties with Hollands top DJs and artists all turning up… it attracted 350,000 people this year
    http://www.rozemaandag-tilburg.nl/index.php

  8. So what’s wrong with making a profit? It seems so many Gay Prides in UK and abroad regularly go bust, amid squabbles over management and organisation. These events cost money, and most gay people have high disposable incomes but are as tight as a duck’s arse when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets.

    The fact is, if it takes a bunch of commercial-thinking straights to get it right, then at least there will be another Pride the following year.

  9. Oh honestly, it’s like any event. Commercialism isn’t reserved for Manchester Pride! I’m sure London is the same. Businesses put their prices up to make money, the organisers at Manchester Pride didn’t tell them to do it. It cost £12.50 in advance to attend Manchester Pride – a whole weekend of fun and entertainment. Hardly a rip off. We’d all like something for nothing, but if you want decent acts, a safe space, parade etc it comes at a price. Don’t go. Don’t pay. Don’t moan.

    Have to say, typical of Pink News to be sniffy about Manchester. If it’s not in London, sponsered ny Pink news then they are not interested in covering it. Some positive coverage please?!!!!

  10. Having read this article:-
    http://www.g7uk.com/manchester-pride-investigation.shtml

    The article confirms many of my feelings about just who runs pride events these days. I’d like to see one of the increasingly rightwing gay media run the content of that article as a story.

  11. [Manchester] “Pride is losing touch with what it was originally meant to be,” said Jack Holroyde, the group’s campaigns director.

    “The event is meant to be a celebration of our sexuality.

    Er….. no. Manchester Pride was never set up as a celebration of our sexuality. It was a fundraising event for, in those early days, Village Charity. It has always been about raising money first and foremost in its various rebrandings and incarnations. Get a hold of the difference between (gay) pride as a concept and Manchester LGBT Pride as an event.

  12. Sister Mary Clarence 30 Aug 2008, 8:24pm

    “So what’s wrong with making a profit? It seems so many Gay Prides in UK and abroad regularly go bust, amid squabbles over management and organisation. These events cost money, and most gay people have high disposable incomes but are as tight as a duck’s arse when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets.”

    Rob, I 100% agree with you. Pride in London left a trail of insolvencies behind it a few years ago and people should remember that many of those owed money and never paid were small businesses that could ill afford to finance the gay community’s once a year piss up.

    Its the bars and clubs that profit from Pride in Manchester, but f**k me, ask them to chip in a few quid (in order that they can make a lot more) and its like they’ve just found a skid mark on a hotel towel.

    Its one thing (which incidentally I don’t agree with) that the punters complaint about the cost of Pride, but this Phil Burke is on another planet.

    I don’t suppose his ‘open letter’ provided details of the takings his members fleeced from the gay community while they were being held ‘to ransom’.

    I’m sure Manchester could have a free event, but I’m assuming the ‘free’ he is talking about does not include ‘free’ admittance to all the clubs and bars and ‘free’ drinks when you get there.

  13. What would happen if the Pride organisers decided not to bother next year? Would you all be up in arms then? You are all so lucky to have a Pride in the first place! A few years ago we wouldn’t have been allowed to have such a large event centered around the LGBT community. It costs a fortune to put on an event with artists as big as AlphaBeat and Sophie Ellis-Bextor – and the Lifestyle Area, and the Parade etc. Bars and clubs do their own thing over the Pride festival so they shouldn’t even be brought into the discussion – you have an issue with what they charge over Pride bring it up with them! Pride itself is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people – mostly volunteers! I say cancel Pride next year – see what happens then!

  14. Haydn Pope 4 Sep 2008, 8:12pm

    I also want to voice my full support for Phil’s statement. As I understand it its an open letter that purely asks for a debate to be opened into Manchester Pride, its philosophy and ethos, and whether it is or isnt fullfilling its original premise of being a gay and community event.

    Surely even Prides strongest supporters would welcome and want the opportunity of airing their views in an open forum / debate? So how about we stop criticising Phil for having the strength of comittment and the balls to bring up an obviously sensitive issue, and join him, the VBA, the various organisations, and Pride itself in ensuring that this undoubtedly sucessfull event improves and continues?

    As someone responsible for 3 venues in and around the village I want to comment that my point is not about whether we as businesses benefit from the Big Weekend, as thats a given! If we are up or down on last year is surely not the correct benchmark of a gay pride event though.

    My concern is that the corporate face of it all has taken over at the expense of the gay people and organisations it was created to celebrate. The Youth Group are up in arms apparently, gay businesses sidelined, people were refused entry to The Vigil to mourn and celebrate the memories of their lost and loved ones because they hadnt paid £18! Entrys on the parade were censored as to what they could and couldnt wear or display, gay support organisations and businesses are treated the same as HSBC or ASDA. Barstaff, performers and DJ’s all get entry passes, yet the volunteers who work extremely hard for the cause over the weekend have to pay to come in and volunteer.

    Yes we all made money, and very welcome that is too. My fear is that we have concentrated too much on the making of money and not enough on the community that the event is meant to celebrate and support.

    This is OUR Pride first and foremost. Its every gay man, woman, bisexual and transgenders Pride. Its the annual highlight of OUR fabulous and world famous village. Its every gay support group and organisations Pride. Lets not allow it to become just another commercial party.

    So well done Phil on opening this debate up.

    Cheers

  15. Melvin Taylor 4 Sep 2008, 8:15pm

    Open letter

    To Whom It May Concern

    I write this letter further to recent statements and press coverage concerning Manchester Pride 2008 and to express my support for Mr Phil Burke.

    Phil has been demonstrated complete support for the Gay Village for many years, and in particular the last few years as Chair of the VBA. He has represented the needs and concerns of all members, without bias, when dealing with many public bodies including Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police to name but a few. I believe his recent statement to be of the same character, raising valid concerns and queries put to him by members of the VBA. Whilst I hold no particular opinion on the concerns raised, I do however believe that Phil is acting in the highest of capacities and the issues he raises should be debated in a fair and transparent matter. In a close-knit community such as ours I feel there will always be criticism, good and bad, and this should be used productively to further all our aims.

    The festival known currently as Manchester Pride was, as correctly stated by Phil, born from a small community to further the needs of our community and to support a local hospital at the height of the HIV epidemic. From this we can be proud that the festival has grown to one of such huge proportions. Whilst the festival cannot ever go back to the original format, I feel that it is tremendously important that it remain true to those original ideals. I am fully aware of the financial implications of running such a huge event, along with the legal obligations placed upon the organisers and am mindful of this whilst writing this letter. As Phil rightly states there should be an open and fair debate, encompassing all sections of the community – businesses, charities, local residents, youth groups…the list should in no way be exclusive. It should be a full discussion with a full disclosure of the reasoning behind decisions taken by the Pride, with opportunity to pose advance questioning, and a Q&A at the meeting. There appears to be, not necessarily a lack of transparency, but perhaps a shortfall in the communication of reasoning for certain decisions. The community should at least have the opportunity to have their questions answered and the Pride Board should have the opportunity to explain how and why certain decisions are made.

    I would suggest that like all members of the VBA, the event is an incredible showcase for the Gay Village and the City of Manchester and one we are incredibly proud of. The time is now to build on our successes, take stock of opinion and criticism, formulate solutions and move forward.

    Phil Burke should not be criticised for his unwavering support for our Village and community. Without him it would be a more difficult place in which to operate. His independence as Chair of the VBA makes him a unique choice for the position and I support him fully in this role.

    Regards

    Melvin Taylor

    Director ,

    Cruz 101

  16. Phil Greenham 4 Sep 2008, 8:17pm

    Body Positive nothwest

    BPNW would like to give its full and unequivocal support to the content of the statement issued by the Chair of the VBA raising concerns about Marketing Manchester’s “Manchester Pride”. The articulate, considered, temperate and thoroughly useful statement issued by the VBA has finally opened a long-overdue debate.

    BPNW is a service user led-organisation; the largest Body Positive remaining in the UK and, some might suggest, a relatively small HIV charity in both local and national terms supporting 1,300 clients across the North West of England. We work operationally directly with people and are not part of the corporate AIDS industry. As such we have empathy when your statement refers to multi national operators versus small businesses. A large proportion of gay men accessing our services are the same gay men who socialise in the village. We encourage our service users to air their views on issues affecting their lives. Over the past couple of years a number of service users at BPNW have aired concerns about the evolution of Manchester Pride from a community event to an overwhelmingly commercial one. We are aware gay men living with HIV who were unable to afford the cost of 2008 Pride who did not attend.

    BPNW is indebted to the VBA for its support over the years; particularly during a difficult 2002/3 when they were a lifeline to us. Following the collapse of Operation fundraiser BPNW welcomed the advent of Manchester Pride in the hope that a new era of greater partnership, transparency, greater involvement of the full range of local agencies representing people living with HIV. Plus we looked forward to a more equitable distribution of charitable funds raised through the event which we hoped might now be the order of the day.

    Two years in BPNW members have expressed concern at the lack of transparency about the decision making processes informing Pride. BPNW’s involvement in Pride has been minimal, amounting to little more than fee paying to participate in both the Parade and the expo area which we are sad about.

    Two years ago BPNW offered volunteers to help with the vigil. That offer was declined. In 2006 BPNW’s collector’s license was revoked on the Friday evening, meaning our plans for street collections had to be shelved. Unfortunately, this year the only unity at the vigil was a banner on the stage.

    To exclude people from the vigil because they have not paid for a wristband should not be acceptable to anyone and, whether deliberate or not, there is an assumption by many people that they are excluded from their vigil, their opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of their friends, lovers, family members, and others in the community. HIV is not owned by any one individual or organisation. Why is the HIV vigil no longer the HIV vigil? Its appropriation by George House Trust at the exclusion of other organisations that work day-in day-out with people with HIV in Manchester is shameful.

    We, as does the VBA, appreciate that the organisation of the Pride weekend is an onerous and unenviable task; however the sprit of the LGBT community is the key for the weekend. What is the ethos of Pride? Is it a marketing exercise or a community event? If it is a community event, perhaps it would be helpful if BPNW were to remind the organisers that its cost is now prohibitive for the majority of people living with HIV existing on state benefits.

    Thank you very much for tackling and airing an extremely difficult topic and hopefully we can support a constructive debate with productive outcomes to enhance 2009’s Pride.

    Phil Greenham

    On behalf of BPNW

  17. hadyn Pope 4 Sep 2008, 8:20pm

    ——————————————————————————————————————————

    I also want to voice my full support for Phil’s statement. As I understand it its an open letter that purely asks for a debate to be opened into Manchester Pride, its philosophy and ethos, and whether it is or isnt fullfilling its original premise of being a gay and community event.

    Surely even Prides strongest supporters would welcome and want the opportunity of airing their views in an open forum / debate? So how about we stop criticising Phil for having the strength of comittment and the balls to bring up an obviously sensitive issue, and join him, the VBA, the various organisations, and Pride itself in ensuring that this undoubtedly sucessfull event improves and continues?

    As someone responsible for 3 venues in and around the village I want to comment that my point is not about whether we as businesses benefit from the Big Weekend, as thats a given! If we are up or down on last year is surely not the correct benchmark of a gay pride event though.

    My concern is that the corporate face of it all has taken over at the expense of the gay people and organisations it was created to celebrate. The Youth Group are up in arms apparently, gay businesses sidelined, people were refused entry to The Vigil to mourn and celebrate the memories of their lost and loved ones because they hadnt paid £18! Entrys on the parade were censored as to what they could and couldnt wear or display, gay support organisations and businesses are treated the same as HSBC or ASDA. Barstaff, performers and DJ’s all get entry passes, yet the volunteers who work extremely hard for the cause over the weekend have to pay to come in and volunteer.

    Yes we all made money, and very welcome that is too. My fear is that we have concentrated too much on the making of money and not enough on the community that the event is meant to celebrate and support.

    This is OUR Pride first and foremost. Its every gay man, woman, bisexual and transgenders Pride. Its the annual highlight of OUR fabulous and world famous village. Its every gay support group and organisations Pride. Lets not allow it to become just another commercial party.
    So well done Phil on opening this debate up.

    Cheers

    Haydn Pope ( AXM Group )

  18. Peter Beswick 4 Sep 2008, 9:26pm

    Phil Burke is in a position to make his comments known to the Village Business Association more so than anyone else as he is not associated with any of the businesses in the Gay Village.

    So he should be applauded for his comments they clearly demonstrate that it is not the comment of one business but are views of many different organisations and businesses and we at the Rembrandt feel that a round the table discussion would be very healthy on the matter of Manchester Pride.

    Peter Beswick.
    The Rembrandt.
    Birthplace of Manchester Pride.

  19. Brian Wright 4 Sep 2008, 9:28pm

    Well done Phil , thank God you have got the BALLS to make a statement like this, you have my support and i am sure that many will follow.

    Regards

    Brian Wright
    EDEN.

  20. I concur with Phil Greenham. It’s time those representing gay interests had more of a say in running pride rather than those seeking to make a cynical buck at the expense of the community they’re supposed to represent. The wristbands are a major factor in my non-attendance over the past 5 years. Where does this money go anyhow?

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