The chair of London LGBT+ Community Pride has explained the challenges facing this year’s event in an interview with PinkNews.co.uk.
Unless the organisation can secure an extra £280,000 and enlist the help of around 700 volunteers to assist on the day; a decision could be made in April to axe the event.
In an interview with PinkNews, Chairman of London LGBT+ Community Pride, Michael Salter said he was “very confident” that the event “would go ahead” – but warned against complacency.
“We want to be very clear with the community from the very outset that trying to put on an event on this scale with 40,000 people on the parade, 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square, 800,000 people across the foot print of the event; those sorts of events don’t come cheaply and they are quite complicated to organise,” said Mr Salter. “So you need a lot of stewards to help make them safe, and to keep people safe, and you also need the money to put it on in the first place.”
Alluding to the problems of last year’s World Pride, Mr Salter said to PinkNews: “In previous prides… there’s been a lot of community backlash and criticism after the events have been scaled back because the community was taken by surprise. So we are very committed to being open and transparent and that means [saying to the community] ‘there will be a difficult choice to make.’ If we don’t have enough volunteers at the end of April and we haven’t got enough money at the end of April we are going to have to look at one of two things: scaling back the ambition – or potentially, if things are really dire, cancelling the event.”
However, Mr Salter stressed that he was “very confident” that the event “would go ahead”. He said: “We don’t think there is a problem or a real issue with it – but we have got to be realistic and open with the community – there is that chance [of cancellation] so it’s right that we raise it publicly.”
When asked, as a new organisation, if it was hard to meet the expectations of the LGBT community in delivering an event that not only would be organised better than last year’s but also could have a higher calibre of musical acts gracing the stage of Trafalgar Square, Mr Salter told PinkNews: “I think it’s two things. First of all last year’s event; a lot of people thought it was fantastic because the parade got 40,000 people, they got a real sense of community cohesion in what they were doing and it didn’t matter that they weren’t a-list celebrities performing on Trafalgar Square… so we have to remember what the community want to take out of Pride it’s not just about having a party in Trafalgar Square or in Soho.”
Mr Salter continued: “We are being realistic and honest… that gives us the integrity of what we can achieve. If we get huge donations and we had a huge amount of money then clearly we will be able to start programming even better acts and entertainment, which some people will want. But we have five months to organise this, we only have a third of the money being provided by the Greater London Authority that it takes to run it, so it is better to be honest and upfront about that… than for everyone to have a misperception of what actually can be delivered.
Last year, Brighton Pride secured dance legend Fatboy Slim as the event’s main headliner. Asked whether it was difficult for London’s gay pride festival to attract similar talent, Mr Salter replied to PinkNews: “We are being approached by agents, we are reaching out to the talent and the management companies, we are hoping there is going to be a few great acts and people will be surprised by the talent we have got on.
“A lot of it is because you need to go to these people [but] they maybe on tour, they maybe need to be booked far in advance, but also they need to be confident that they are part of an event that is credible, that represents the community well and gives people a good time. Now some people will question, given last year’s scaling back of Pride, as to whether that’s the sort of the event they want to be involved with – so this foundation year in 2013 is all about building that credibility, so people do get involved, and feel they want to get involved, and feel they want to perform in future years.”