BRIGHTON Pride organisers say they have learnt lessons from last year’s event to make for an even better celebration this time around.
Bosses at the Brighton Pride Community Interest Company have said they had listened to residents and revellers and hoped that everyone would feel the benefit in a week’s time.
And organisers say they have been prepared to spend the money where necessary to ensure that Pride remains a “Blue Ribbon” event.
Pride bosses have opened up their books to The Argus to show where the money is going this year and how it was spent last year in the interests of “openness and transparency”.
This year’s event will cost more than £750,000 to produce with more than half those costs going on production and artists to create an extended Preston Park event.
The acts featured will include Blue, former Pussycat Doll Kimberley Wyatt, Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro, Katy B and the heavily pregnant X-Factor winner Sam Bailey.
Organisers have also spent an extra £25,000 on security and stewarding in response to last year’s event where some partygoers complained of long queues to get into the park festival.
Director Paul Kemp said: “2014 is Pride Community Interest Company’s second year organising the Pride Festival and we have spent considerable time consulting with community groups, listening to feedback and analysing the 2013 Pride Festival in order to finesse plans for this year’s Pride.
“For example, following feedback from attendees at Preston Park last year, we have tripled the amount of people scanning tickets on the gates at the park and have added extra gates and lanes to speed up access to the park. “Pride is a unique event that always has over 25,000 people arriving at the venue at once. “We recommend that festival goers arrive before 1pm or after 3pm to avoid this busy period.
“With this year’s extended hours until 10pm there is still plenty of time to enjoy all the entertainment Pride has to offer this year.”
Openness and transparency has always been a key issue with Pride.
This is especially so since previous organisers Pride South East collapsed with £200,000 debts in 2012 - putting the future of the event in doubt.
Brighton Pride organisers were stung by criticism at a heated public meeting in May over proposals for Pride organisers to take on the running of the St James’s Street party.
Mr Kemp told the audience that night that Pride “was not some big money-grabbing organisation” and that the plans to charge street partygoers were based purely on security grounds.
Last year’s event made £7,000 profit while the event’s tireless managers, Mr Kemp and Dulcie Weaver, paid themselves less than £15,000.
The street party event will cost organisers £62,000 and produce no profit except for the £1 from each £5 wristband sale, which will go to the Rainbow Fund.
Mr Kemp said: “As a not-for-profit Community Interest Company(CIC) we believe it is important that Pride is open and transparent and to this end, after last year’s Pride we published draft management accounts demonstrating the huge cost of staging such a large event.
“Pride CIC will also publish accounts from this year’s Pride Village Party, together with the total amount raised from the sale of village party Pledgebands.”
The Rainbow Fund, which benefits from Pride, is a Brighton and Hove based grant-giving fund for LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations.
Organisers have also managed to increase the level of sponsorship for this year’s Pride by more than 15%.
Bosses say they hope that other businesses that benefit from the £13 million economic boost the Pride weekend brings to the city will contribute in future years.
One success from this year’s street party has been securing the commitment of Tesco and Morrison’s to pay £1,000 towards the running of the street party, which is set to net them bumper sales.
The supermarkets agreed to sponsorship following an intervention by Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby.
Mr Kemp said: “Brighton Pride has been recognised as one of the best global Pride celebrations, alongside other major international cities such as Rio de Janeiro, New York and Barcelona.
“It’s important that we continue to improve the quality and standards in order to remain an event that brings in visitors from all over the world boosting the local economy.”
Organisers have also said that they have carefully looked at all costs incurred last year and have tried to make savings where possible.
And they are proud of a product that festival goers can enjoy for as little as £9.50 that they say compares favourably with any similar one-day festival locally - such as Shakedown at £37.50.
Mr Kemp said: “Pride has the same production costs as any large scale festival and the price of our tickets reflects this. We do however, work very hard to keep prices as affordable as possible and as such we compare very favourably with other festivals this summer.
“It will always be important that the Pride Festival remains accessible to everyone, and so we will always commit to offering discounted community and lower priced early bird tickets.”
For more information on this year’s pride visit www.brighton-pride.org
£43,000 for good causes
One of the major successes of Pride 2013 was the amount of money raised for good causes.
The event smashed its fundraising target in collecting £43,000, which was distributed among good causes in the city by the Rainbow Fund.
With ticket sales for the Preston Park event outstripping last year’s numbers and new revenue from the sale of wristbands for the street party, it is hoped that fundraising figure will be bettered this year.
The money from Pride and the Brighton Bear Weekender has helped to pay for one of the country’s first dedicated Trans support worker leading a youth project benefitting 54 young people.
The project has reported significant reductions in suicide attempts and self-harm while helping to build confidence and self esteem.
Another of the dozens of groups to have benefitted from Rainbow Fund grants last year was mental health charity MindOut, who were able to run peer support groups for LGBT people - providing support for 87 people.
The money also allowed the group from Community Base in Queens Road to run its Out of the Blue suicide prevention group, which has assisted almost 250 people.
Director Helen Jones said the services had saved lives.
She said: “There is something very special about The Rainbow Fund that it is run by and run for the community that we are part of.
“All the people in the Rainbow Fund understand what the level of need is and that’s really refreshing to talk to a funder who knows what you are talking about.
“Pride has always needed to give something back to the community and The Rainbow Fund makes it a more lasting experience.
“It’s not just about having a great party, it’s about doing something for everybody and a great party.
“We really value such a community focussed, flexible grant which has supported us to offer essential services as well as developing new community work.”
Other services provided through the Rainbow Fund grants include a new occupational therapy project run by Sussex Beacon charity providing 77 occupational therapy based rehabilitation sessions for people with complex, HIV related illnesses.
The therapy helped scores of residents to improve their physical, psychological and cognitive functions and allowed them to return to a more independent lifestyle.
The money given to Brighton Gay Elderly Men’s Society (GEMS), has helped the group to reach out with a new website and printed material to more members of the community who feel cut-off and isolated.
The financial boost has meant the group can spread its message of support in doctors’ receptions and with other Brighton and Hove groups.
The money has helped fund more coach trips outside Brighton and Hove, helped to meet the costs of weekly swimming sessions for residents on low incomes and to pay for health and support experts to speak to the group.
Robert Douglas, from GEMS, said: “The gay community is getting older and increasing in numbers here in Brighton and Hove, which makes our support group even more important.
“We cannot do this without financial help from organisations like the Rainbow Fund even despite all our admin team being unpaid volunteers. Reaching gay men in isolation has always been very difficult through lack of funding.
Support group Lunch Positive received funding to provide 52 weekly Friday lunch club sessions as well as supporting a volunteer programme providing a total of around 5,000 hours of skilled support.
Gary Pargeter, of Lunch Positive, said: “Despite improvements in HIV treatments, living with HIV can still be very isolating and a difficult life challenge.
“Many people still have poorer health, poorer mental health and are fearful of stigma.
“The Rainbow Fund has been a lifeline to our organisation, and without this we would not be here right now.
“Smaller organisations like Lunch Positive rely on this type of funding and the Rainbow Fund has been pivotal in helping us to provide and develop our service.”
Rainbow Fund chairman Paul Elgood said last year’s fundraising had signified a huge investment in the local LGBT and HIV support community.
He said: “It was all funding that we would not have been able to give out without the contribution of Pride.
“The money is vital at a time now when groups are finding it the hardest to raise funds.
“Giving the groups grants gives them more time to worry about the people they are benefitting and less time worrying about raising money so it is important that they are able to do what they do best, which is helping people.
“What is also key is that the funding is stable now, which helps groups to plan. Pride has never been better managed than it is now.
“We particularly look to support volunteer-led groups and many say that what they receive from us is their annual funding coming in.”
Community groups can submit applications for Rainbow Fund grants until August 8.
The grant funding is then decided by an independent panel in an open selection process.
To apply visit rainbow-fund.org.