Manchester Pride – The Truth About Where Your Wristband Money Really Went…

The shocking truth is that LESS THAN 0.8% of the total £803,000 Manchester Pride generated in 2007 went to the LGBT community groups that the public have been mislead into believing is the main reason for it’s existence.

After Manchester Pride 2007, the organisers claimed out of the £803,000 income in 2007, £95,000 apparently went to good causes. THE TRUTH is over £70,000 of that went to either the LGF or GHT despite both charities being two of the biggest and already well funded. This leaves less than £25,000 for LGBT groups other than the LGF and GHT… but that’s not quite true either!

Considering the maximum grant groups could apply for was £1,500 the sums do add up when you see the published list of 17 groups shared around £1,470 each. HOWEVER many of these groups are actually LGF CORE SERVICES you no doubt will have heard of. THIS IS FRAUD. They are denying other groups and organisations access to funding YOU have been kind enough to pay for. They are undoubtedly STEALING from the LGBT COMMUNITY plus anyone who has gone to the trouble of purchasing a Big Weekend Wristband, and leaving other worthwhile causes with an insulting 6% (less than 0.8% of Pride’s overall income) of what’s actually left once they’ve taken their cut.

This “Ghost Ship” of “Good Causes” listed as “Our Groups and Services” on the LGF website and in the majority of their corporate literature or are in actual fact run by or at least in very close partnership with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) Icebreakers, 40+ Men’s Group, Gay Married Men’s Group, Stepping Stones, Black LGBT Group, Northern Wave, Rainbow Families, Carousel, Keshet, Pride Sports and “The Art Class”. Literature outlining the LGF’s core services states “The LGF provides and develops services and activities which work towards improvements in health and quality of life for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people. Our group work -Stepping Stones and Icebreakers (coming out groups for women and men respectively); Married Men’s Group, for men who are or have been in heterosexual relationships and feel attracted to other men; the 40+ Gay Men’s Group; Carousel, a black LGBT group.” If these groups and services the LGF obviously do run, and have run for many years don’t cover the above remit what part of it’s work does? Further to that, few, if any of these groups, either by name or direct involvement proactively include the Transgendered community. Despite this claim, the LGF’s own literature including it’s monthly publication “OutNorthWest” is regularly inconsistent in their use of the term “Transgender” – or lack of it.

Age Concern and Queer Up North also received an as yet undisclosed sum of funding from the pride bucket in 2007. These two organisations are very well funded and already have many existing sources of income. It’s is a positive step to see Age Concern are at last making a concious attempt to support some of society’s most isolated and at risks groups of people, so why does their work around older LGBT’s have to rely on applying for relatively tiny pots of funding from Manchester Pride to sustain this important area of their work? What fraction of Age Concern’s £14 Million annual turnover goes towards running services for older LGBT people?

Queer Up North is run by the North West Tourist board and Manchester City Council. It just received a grant (most was to pay it’s director and support staff) of over £100,000 this year – which dwarfs the combined incomes of pretty much all the other groups funded by Manchester Pride (other than the LGF and GHT) listed above. Youth Groups promised they would benefit from events and activities run by Queer Up North and their new found £100k+ arts funding have failed to be contacted by the organisation. Local artists who should have been supported by Queer Up North have been snubbed by Queer Up North in favour of paying for performers from all over the world to fly in to Manchester.

“Women’s Space” is listed as a being a part of Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend within the ticketed gay village compound. It aims to provide “a day of events to amuse, inform and entertain. There will be a wide range of entertainment to reflect the diversity of the lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women’s communities including bands, cabaret acts, dance, performance, poets, book readings, DJs and comediennes” and runs on Sunday between midday til 11pm. Members of the Lesbian Community Project fought for many years for Women’s Space to become a reality and it is a testament to their determination and perseverance that it still takes place each year.

Considering the mammoth budget provided for the “Big Weekend” to take place and the entry fee of over £20 (not including the extra booking fee) festival-goers are asked to pay to get in to the gay village to enter Women’s Space in the first place the question should be, why isn’t funding set aside for Women’s Space just like all the over Big Weekend events? Why does Women’s Space have to apply each year in this manner so they can have the privilege of running their own event that charges people to enter but then. Women’s Space should automatically be funded fully by the Manchester Pride piggy-bank. It is not.

The only other local LGBT groups that got any funding from Manchester Pride 2007 (and there are many more who remain unfunded as far as we know) were four relatively small, independent, self-governing groups without a direct connection to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, who are the most genuine and needy of all the groups funded by Manchester Pride. These four groups were Biphoria, Manchester Parents Group, Lesbian Community Project, Young Women’s Peer Health Project (LIK:T). It’s also startling to know these groups have been charged to run stalls in the Lifestyle Expo which used to be free of charge to small groups. Groups not listed have been turned away yet again this year.

How has a situation occurred whereby the LGF are allowed to apply for MULTIPLE sums of Manchester Pride’s funding under different names whilst other legitimate local groups and organisations are only permitted to apply once? Many of these smaller groups face the constant treat of closure, have few if any actual paid staff but still engage with as many people if not more than the LGF do?

JUST WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?

Taken from Gay Mafia Watch – Blowing the Whistle on corporate exploitation of the LGBT Community in Britain today. http://gaymafiawatch.wordpress.com

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13 Responses to Manchester Pride – The Truth About Where Your Wristband Money Really Went…

  1. RGS says:

    That is shocking. An excellent piece of research by your aptly-named site.

  2. Pete from the Rem says:

    Most bar and pub owners in the village have known about this scam for years. It’s been going on since the early days so in some senses of the word the scandal of where the charity money ends up going is a tradition itself. Well done for exposing the current state of play! Pretending to operate as separate unrelated groups in order to get more funding is clearly very wrong.

  3. Mike Modrich says:

    So so sad, but good reporting.

  4. CB says:

    I only paid £12.50 for my wristband.

    I think the LGF do an amazing job which very proactively and directly supports Manchester’s LGB community. They provide a tremendous number of services for so many people with very limited resources. I am very proud of the LGF and what they stand for and no, I do not work for them.

    Did you hear the response they got during the parade? I got the impression from the reaction of the crowd that everybody feels the same way about them.

    If you don’t like where the money goes from Pride weekend then it’s simple, don’t go! Oh and keep your hands off the free condoms and lube too! ;-)

  5. Rosa L says:

    Excellent article. Finally someone has articulated what I have been angered by for years.

    LGF may, or may not, run services that benefit those who use them. LGF certainly has some dedicated staff and volunteers who run their services.

    Sadly, the LGF senior managers and directors lead the organisation in an undemocratic, disempowering, dissent stifling, empire building, manner. They say our money helps smaller genuinely community groups, when it goes to their top down services. They say help fight homophobia, but suggest the route to liberation is giving them cash, not coming out or challenging discrimination. They say Pride is for all, but run an event for people with money, who only want to get drunk or high, and who don’t have children (or dogs!). I’m the least sporty person in the world, but found the community spirited, shoe string budget, family and dog friendly, activities of Pride Sport to be my happiest experience of Pride in a while.

    To end, the story of a 17 year old I know. Growing up and coming out on a council estate in a far from great area of Greater Manchester. Years of being bullied for being gay before he knew he was. Came out at 16 last summer just before Pride. Was being regularly beaten up on his way home, threatened with knives, scared to go out. Would have really benefitted from a weekend in a gay space, being ‘proud’. Just left school, no money, single parent Mum with no spare cash, couldn’t afford a wrist band and get in. A few months later, he came to see me. He’d started college, and got his educational maintenance allowance. But he was still broke. He’d seen an LGF advert, and believed it’s message that if he gave LGF money they would end homophobia for him. He had given them his whole allowance, and was going to set up a standing order to do so every month. He needed support, encouragement, role models, safe housing, safe education, safe transport. He was already making an incredibly brave stand against homophobia. LGF just took his money.

  6. Jonathan Best says:

    Hi. I just wanted to mention one or two things about QUN…

    “Queer Up North also received an as yet undisclosed sum of funding from the pride bucket in 2007.”

    The sums in 2007 were £1000 to pay for British Sign Language interpreters at several of the events, and £4700 towards the exhibition of the British Aids Quilt for the first time in 10 years. In 2008 QUN received £1000 from Pride, again for sign language interpretation.

    “Queer Up North is run by the North West Tourist board and Manchester City Council.”

    No it isn’t. It’s an independent organisation, and a registered charity, funded from several different sources, one of which is Manchester City Council – but the council does not ‘run’ QUN, or take any part in its management. The North West Tourist Board has nothing to do with QUN at all, though they have advertised in the programme once or twice. (I think)

    “It just received a grant (most was to pay it’s director and support staff) of over £100,000 this year”

    QUN receives just over £97,000 per year from Arts Council England, which is to fund the production of an international arts festival in Manchester – this is the largest single grant QUN gets by a long way. This is less than a third of what it costs to make the festival each year – QUN raises commercial sponsorship and funds from various other sources, including the box office, to meet the total festival costs. And QUN has only 2 full time staff members. All QUN’s accounts are publicly available, as it is a limited company and a charity, and fully transparent in its work.

    “Youth Groups promised they would benefit from events and activities run by Queer Up North and their new found £100k+ arts funding have failed to be contacted by the organisation.”

    What ‘new found 100K”?? The Arts Council have been funding QUN for years – there is nothing ‘new found’ about their £97K grant. And who are the youth groups ‘promised’ benefits that haven’t been forthcoming? QUN has recently produced a touring play tackling homophobic bullying in UK schools which reached over 9000 teenagers- the biggest single anti-homophobic bullying project ever undertaken. Every year QUN produces work with and for young people in Greater Manchester – in 2008 there were youth dance projects in Salford with Stephen Petronio Dance Company, a visual art project made by young people at Contact Theatre, young people from choirs across Manchester singing Rufus Wainwright’s new score at the Lowry… etc etc. The programme of work with young people is more extensive than any other queer arts organisation in the UK, and we’re growing the programme all the time.

    “Local artists who should have been supported by Queer Up North have been snubbed by Queer Up North in favour of paying for performers from all over the world to fly in to Manchester.”
    Queer Up North is an international arts festival. As part of the programme, artists and performers from the city and the region are commissioned and presented alongside UK-wide and international talent. There is always more national and international talent in the festival than local, that’s true – and it’s because QUN’s job is to bring new things into the city. But local and regional artists also have a place in the festival – it’s simply not true to say local artists and performers are ‘snubbed’. Some are programmed, some are not – QUN can’t do everything, and we always try to find the best we can for the festival. But the door is always open for anyone to propose work to us – whether local, national, or international.

    I’m all for interrogating vested interests, but it’s important to get facts straight. I’m the artistic director of QUN, and I don’t hide away – I’m happy to have conversations with anyone who wants to engage with Queer up North, no matter how critical they want to be. Anyone who wants to discuss anything about what we’re up to is always welcome to email me at jonathan@queerupnorth.com

  7. [...] our article “The Truth about where your wristband money really went“ which explains how together they conspired to ripped off Manchester’s long [...]

  8. [...] there are plenty of other more worthy causes out there you might wish to consider Read here about how they fleeced the public by redirecting money raised from Manchester [...]

  9. Sophie - Community Artist says:

    Jonathan Best.. well done for “not hiding away” and wanting to engage with people, however I feel what you have said is purely smoke and mirrors, your organisation is perceived as an exclusive domain for already established artists and as a result the local crowd feel very disempowered hence the back-lash.

    You said: “the council does not ‘run’ QUN, or take any part in its management. The North West Tourist Board has nothing to do with QUN at all,”

    -Queer Up North is run by a board of management right?
    Isn’t Andrew Stokes the Chair of your board of directors?

    Isn’t Andrew Stokes also Chair of Manchester Pride
    Isn’t Andrew Stokes also Chief Executive of Marketing Manchester
    (aka the Tourist Board)

    I have asked others who have seen holes in your statement to come on here and post their thoughts on QUN so with any luck they will make themselves known soon.

    It’s very sad “Get-Bent” didn’t happen this year – a true example of a queer community arts festival. Maybe if you want to engage with the people behind that and other projects that receive very little in the way of recognition on the level you are lucky to have.

    http://www.get-bent-manchester.com

  10. Jonathan Best says:

    Hi Sophie

    Smoke and mirrors? I don’t think so. I’ll take your points one by one.

    “your organisation is perceived as an exclusive domain for already established artists and as a result the local crowd feel very disempowered hence the back-lash.”
    Some may perceive QUN as an ‘exclusive domain’ as you put it – but they’re mistaken. Anyone can propose an idea to QUN for the festival, and we advertise nationally several calls for submissions for each annual festival. Several regionally-based artists are under commission to create work for the festival, and a great many more are involved with a variety of participatory projects running in the city. Plenty of local artists of all types work with us – and you are as welcome as anyone else to propose a project. I’m always happy to have a conversation with you about this – just get in touch and make an appointment to come into the office.

    Now, re the Tourist Board, as you call it. Yes, Andrew Stokes is the chair of QUN. He is not chair of QUN in his capacity as CEO of Marketing Manchester – and Marketing Manchester is not a ‘tourist board’ (though I agree there are a few similarities). QUN is run by its management, and I lead that team. Andrew Stokes heads up a board of trustees which currently includes 7 members, all detailed on our website.

    It IS sad that Get Bent didn’t happen this year. It is, as you say, a true example of a queer community arts festival and I’m a strong supporter of it. There has been connection between Get Bent and QUN – for example, some of the Polish connections made by Get Bent were a result of my research and community work in Poland through 2006 and 2007, and artists and activists that I invited to Manchester as part of QUN 07. Several volunteers and participants in various QUN projects are involved with Get Bent – so not everyone shares your sense of alienation.

    Part of the problem here is a misunderstanding about exactly what QUN is. It’s not the same thing as Get Bent. QUN is an international arts festival – that’s what the Arts Council funds us to do. As such we have a commitment to presenting a program of international and UK based queer performance work. Our artistic policy is to commission, produce, and present work that is innovative and/or experimental. Some might think that qualifies as ‘an exclusive domain’ as you put it – but I truly don’t think that’s the case. On the other hand, QUN is not an open-access festival – it is a curated program of events – and that means that we make programming choices. These choices can always be disagreed with – and some people do so. There’s nothing wrong with that, and we can’t please everyone. But it isn’t exclusive or secretive – if it were I wouldn’t be bothering engaging with you here, particularly given some of the accusations that have been levelled on this site! But I’m not scared of a bit of argument – it’s a free country, and a democracy (well, mostly) so if you, or anyone else, has criticisms of QUN that you’d like to air – and if we keep it civil – I’m happy to hear them and continue the conversation on this site.

    The offer to meet and talk is there. Just get in touch with me at the office – 0161 234 2942 – if you want to take me up on that.

    Best wishes to everyone here.

    Jonathan
    Artistic Director
    Queer Up North

  11. [...] who have far more insight into the voluntary sector that I do have written about the way the LGF has sucked up almost all the charity funding from Manchester [...]

  12. [...] Last year GayMafiaWatch published an article about Manchester Pride 2007 exposing “The truth about where your wristband money really went” – and how less than 1% of the charity’s income went to LGBT community [...]

  13. Gary says:

    The LGF have effectively created the illusion that their social/support groups, as part of their ‘core services’, are all run wonderfully and that everyone is happy. Far from it. Two groups I know of – Blacknorthwest and 40+ mens group are up in arms over poor communications between volunteers and management, especially over funding. Until recently volunteers running 40+ for example had no idea how much funding they had left for the year to budget for events, therefore making planning virtually impossible.

    Due to a complete funding bungle this year Blacknorthwest could not spend any of their allotted funds in getting members to Black Pride in London by Hire Vehicle – instead having to purchase last minute coach tickets – whilst the LGF itself managed to run a stall at Black Pride without virtually anyone knowing (and presumably got there in luxury) staffed by not one of Blacknorthwest members.

    LGF Staff never even visit any of the groups, leaving this to volunteers alone, many of whom feel they have been treated like, and I quote ‘SHIT’.

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