Ticket to pRide: another wristband rip-off!

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 groups.

Shocked at what we had uncovered, a number of people printed the article off and began handing it out outside the ticket offices to the dismay of festival organisers. Less than a week later, Chair of the Village Business Association Phil Burke resigned from the Board of Manchester Pride claiming the event was “run by dictators” and is “just about making money”.

Phil Burke’s resignation made the front page of the Manchester Evening News and sent shockwaves throughout the gay community causing many others to speak out, although he wasn’t the first despite being the most notable.

Fully aware of the articles published right here on GayMafiaWatch and over on a number of other websites over six months later neither Manchester Pride or its partners (all of whom keep scamming the public) have made no attempt to dispute or explain their deplorable actions. In fact they’ve continued to break their own rules and have once again distributed funding to a number of false community projects and dodgy enterprises in 2008.

Favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, downright self-serving greed is alive and kicking amongst the more influential members of Manchester gay community at the expense of everyone else they claim to serve.

Once again Manchester City Council’s flagship “Lesbian and Gay” charity – the Lesbian and Gay Foundation have been at the centre of the storm. In terms of the number of staff it employs the LGF is the BIGGEST gay charity in the UK.

In the terms and conditions on the application forms for Pride funding it clearly states:

“Multiple applications from the same organisation will not be accepted due to the large number of applications we receive”

Obviously the Lesbian and Gay Foundation feel they are EXEMPT this rule and have again submitted numerous application for their “core services” disguised as independent groups (which clearly they are not).

Here’s a break-down of their scam:

Icebreakers – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the next year

Carousel Group – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the year

Gay Married Men’s Group – Further development of the website – plus contribution towards venue hire and resources

Black North West – Costs towards developing a BME photo library plus venue hire & resource costs.

40+ Gay & Bisexual Men’s Group – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the year & costs towards workshops

Stepping Stones –  Ongoing core costs & money to buy a laptop for the group

Art Class – The Manchester Pride website simply calls this group “Art Class” – but the LGF’s own website lists at as “the LGF Art Class” and the logo has their logo imposed on top of it – as do all of the other groups listed above.

These groups are ALL facilitated by staff and volunteers of the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and meets at their offices.

They also enjoy large amounts of free publicity in LGF publications and access to resources such a free internet, phones and stationary (which other groups are denied). Even more sneakily they are using their funding to pay for room hire in their OWN building – already funded by Manchester City Council and other local authorities.

Maximum grants are around £1,000 (we hear they’ve all applied for the maximum) meaning that approximately £7,000 of extra funding has been skimmed off the Pride Community fund by the LGF in the guide of non-related groups – this is in addition to at least £25,000 they already get from Manchester Pride and the undisclosed sum they also get in return for managing the distribution of funds to other groups.

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s own board members also sit on the grants panel that decides who and who doesn’t get the funding – this is a breach of good practice and something the charity commission have vowed to investigate since we brought it to their attention last week following complaints from other groups.

So where is all this money going?

Other than the Lesbian and Gay Foundation…and a small selection of others? Manchester Pride’s Community Fund is meant to be for all “LGBT Community groups” – but the majority of those go to either groups that provide services exclusively to gay men or lesbians. Only two groups serving the transgender community received funding this year. The only dedicated bisexual group to receive funds from Manchester Pride (BiPhoria) have asked for costs pay for room hire costs, and also money towards their Pride stall (this used to be free).

So let’s get this straight – groups like BiPhoria apply to Pride only to hand to back to Pride for the privilege of having a (previously free) stall at the so called “Community Expo”?

  • Less than £3,000 went to Bisexual and Transgender groups.
  • The Lesbian and Gay Foundation claimed at least £7,000 more than it was allowed.
  • Less than £2,000 went to young people’s services.
  • An undisclosed sum was paid to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation for distributing the grants.
  • Only preselected HIV/AIDS organisations received funding from the HIV Fund – sums not published.

What about other groups they’ve funded? With only a very vague description for a group no-one seems to have heard of a group called “Gay in the UK” have been given funding to cover the cost of “practitioners and tutors”.

Considering they are intending to use their grant to pay for professionals (instead of bringing in volunteers with the same skills) for their project (whatever it is!) is it going to be value for money? or is this yet another bogus project set up to line the pockets of someone close to those dishing out the pennies?

Beyond the LGF’s clever little scheme of hoarding even more funding is what Manchester Pride’s website vaguely describes as funding to “set up a new voluntary LGBT photographic group”. Run by a group of professional village photographers known as “Exposure” who have asked or “initial set up costs of new voluntary LGBT photographic group” run by Paul Jones – one of Manchester Pride’s official photographers.

Exposure’s “Profile Page” on Flickr

Jones has also been paid by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation to take photos for their publications in the past. The majority of the photos posted by the group online appear to be professional, promotional photos for Manchester Pride as well as the Pride Games (well their black-tie dinner anyway!). Many of the photos taken by the group appear in various publications including the Manchester Pride website as well as corporate materials used by Pride’s three biggest beneficiaries – Body Positive, the George House Trust and the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in numerous publications and regularly in OutNorthWest. The majority of photos are also taken at commercial events at a number of bars and clubs in the gay village including Vanilla, Cruz 101, Queer, Essential and Federation.

At the time of going to press GayMafiaWatch tried to find out more about “Exposure” and how ordinary members of the public could get involved but we got no reply. Even Manchester Pride themselves couldn’t give us an answer.

We original posed the question… is Exposure a dodgy operation or is it a genuine “community photography project”? Thanks to the vague and slightly misleading way Manchester Pride’s website has presented who and what gets funded when this article was first written we couldn’t be sure what it was until we began asking, got no response and then did our own bit of digging… so now we’ve got to the bottom of it it would be great to hear the same from others who wish to put their side of the story across… although silence is often the best indicator of guilt.

Update 22/04/09 –

Further Details regarding “Exposure”
Since this article was originally published we would like to thank Paul Jones for contacting us directly who to clarify for himself what Manchester Pride could not. You can read his response to our questions in the comments section at the bottom article. We have had to omit some personal details from his response along with an accusation claiming everything on GayMafiaWatch should be regarded as fiction – clearly this is not true! As if it were we’d be forever updating all our contributions and so far this is the most we’ve ever been asked to amend.

Out of respect to Exposure and Paul Jones and in the interest of maintaining the overall integrity of what is otherwise quite a detailed article that has provoked a mostly positive response we have retracted our statement that Exposure appears to be a “shady operation”. From what we know, Manchester’s gay community is rather close-knit and unlike London it does not have an infinite supply of community champions such as Paul Jones. That leads us to conclude that it is conceivable Exposure’s main activities which amongst other things include providing a free professional service run not for profit to commercial companies run for personal gain such as the bars and clubs on Canal Street is merely down to the cosy nature of the scene in Manchester or an admirable kindness of heart. Perhaps a bit of both? You answered our questions, we corrected our assumptions and you have requested an apology and here you have it. We apologise for any distress caused personally to those invovled.

There are times when public figures feel they are so far beyond the realms of accountability that there can be room for satire, and on occasion even humorous ridicule. Although the original article was very careful not make any direct personal attack on the character on Paul Jones as an individual as he has made clear he and Exposure are clearly one and the same, we do in fact owe Paul Jones a public apology for suggesting Exposure appears to be a fake project.  How valuable it’s services are to the community at large and who looses out if you are of the opinion that Exposure’s work is not worthy remains to be seen. People will at least be able to come to their own conclusions next time they see one of their pictures in another glossy brochure somewhere out on Canal Street knowing that’s where some of their wristband money went.

We would like to wish Exposure and Paul Jones the best of luck with their work and look forward to seeing them making a positive and continued contribution to their communities.

For details on how we conduct our investigations fairly visit our Feedback page.

What’s changed since last year?

Groups not giving funding directly back to pride or which are not run by members of Pride’s board and partner agencies is in the minority – although due to the addition of a few extra groups it is slightly more than last year.

In response to criticism and in a a U-turn to previous ways of doing things, Manchester Pride decided to open a surprise round of funding called the “Events Fund” but again their intentions are questionable. Events “must take place during the 10-day pride festival” and funding is limited to £500 per group. Details of successful applicants will be announced sometime in April – no doubt we’ll also see a number of dodgy projects that are run by people linked to Pride showing more evidence of nepotism and conflicts of professional interest.

The “events fund” only came about because they couldn’t get rid of all the funding in the first round and only totals £7,000 altogether out of the total Pride income over nearly £1 Million. Many groups have decided to boycott the grants scheme in protests at events in 2008 and the way money has been collected and distributed). If you are aware of the diverse number of LGBT community groups in Greater Manchester you will no doubt notice a number of names missing from the list of who they funded out of 2008’s funding.

This full list can be found here. Perseverly lots of the smaller community projects which remain (for now!) independent of Manchester Pride and it’s partners end up giving their grants BACK to Manchester Pride. They have to use their funding to pay for the privilege of a stall at the “Lifestyle Expo”, for the cost of an entry and licenses into the Pride Parade and also to hire meeting space at the offices of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation. Ludicrous when you consider Pride would be NOTHING without the contributions to pride from these groups over the years.

Smaller community groups and charities were noticeably missing from last year’s “Lifestyle Expo” stall area and many chose to boycott the space in protest at the recently introduced stall charges. It’s ludicrous to think they are so unwilling to back down considering all the extravagances Manchester Pride splashes out on in terms of promotions – giving large sums of money to marketing companies such as Oz Promotions and free advertising for media giants (such the Gaydar and the Pink Paper) and public sector sponsors seems to be top priority. Showcasing the grassroots LGBT community and giving them a genuine platform is not a priority.

The illusion of the event being about making money for charity has been well and truly shattered once again.

What is Manchester Pride really about?


We’re not disputing that there are many hard-working, selfless people who work and volunteer for Manchester Pride. However there are other, more ruthless people who wish to capitalise on the festival.

In 2007 the Charity Commission launched an investigation into Manchester Pride and concluded that what happens during the August Bank Holiday weekend in Manchester’s fenced off gay village are “not charitable fund-raising events – they are events organised by Marketing Manchester”.

welcome to vulgariaMarketing what?! Marketing Manchester – paid for by tax-payers in Greater Manchester, Marketing Manchester as been described by many as being “a well-oiled PR machine” that has a number of objectives, the first being to make money for a small but powerful elite of business people by increasing tourism and investment.

Led by Andrew Stokes (aka “Drew”) who also happens to be the Chairman of Manchester Pride, this “arms length” management company resides in a swish converted warehouse in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

They even have a Yacht harbored in the luxury French resort of Cannes where Mr Stokes entertains rich Saudi businessmen. We hear Mr Stokes is currently in Dubai at a property fair “selling Manchester” just as he’s committed to “selling pride”. Bon Voyage!…

Further reading on this subject:

Reclaiming Pride in Manchester
Tips on how you can do your part in reclaiming Manchester’s Pride festival by supporting alternative events and links to different bodies that provide funding and support to community groups.

Where your wristband money really went in 2007
Our article dissecting how the money raised for charity was really spent from money raised by sales of wristbands for Manchester Pride in 2007 and distributed to projects in 2008.

External Links: (not by GayMafiaWatch just in case you were wondering)

Manchester Pride Investigation
Gary Seven has been researching the web of spin, PR and false information that surrounds Manchester Pride which the organisers seems to think the public has no right to know. He puts the facts to the speculation surrounding how raising money for charity has become a secondary consideration and little more than a convenient fig-leaf to cover huge profit-making by businesses.

Manchester Evening News: Pride festival ‘just about money’
Festival accused of betraying its gay and lesbian roots by a leading Gay Village businessman. Phil Burke, chairman of the Village Business Association, says the annual event is no longer a celebration of lesbian and gay life, but a cynical money-making operation.

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15 Responses to Ticket to pRide: another wristband rip-off!

  1. Arthur says:

    they are taking the piss now. why cant these people just be honest and say how they are using the charity money instead of being all cloak and dagger and doing it by stealth?

    i will not be buying a ticket to manchester pride this year! thank you for conforming what i already suspected!!

  2. Concerned says:

    A great concern is the way that the city council and local and national media have in effect colluded to ‘big up’ this event with fake figures over the years, so keeping it afloat for as long as it has been. Was this through laziness (just rehashing Pride press releases) or was it a sign of something more sinister?

    For years there was no criticism or scrutiny whatsoever. It is only websites and blogs run by local people that have sounded the alarm bells by publishing the real facts.

    There is a message there for everyone, particularly as traditional local news seems to be in terminal decline: with ITV saying it can’t afford to do it anymore and local newspapers struggling.

  3. Paul Jones says:

    Exposure Photography was set up in late 2008, to cater for the needs of the LGBT community, who require a professional photographic service, at a very low cost, with all monies earned being ploughed back into the group. For the ten years prior to this, I Paul Jones, had offered this service totally free of charge at a great expense to myself, to date £25,000 on equipment, with no funding or payment from any of the Charities.

    The main reason Exposure Group was set up was because I could no longer afford to fund the work I do on my own and the Manchester Pride Community Fund award for 2008, is the only funding I have received to date. I did apply many years ago, as an individual, but was refused, as Manchester Pride does not fund individuals.

    With regard to payment from the LGF for their photography, I have only received a small payment once towards costs personally, and have only received one payment on behalf of Exposure Group earlier this year. I would like to point out that if the LGF wished to hire the equipment, for the photo shoot Exposure have done for them, one day’s hire would have cost considerably more than the small fee Exposure charged.

    Tim Pickstone has no involvement with Exposure, and on the Flickr site there is, and never has been, any link or mention of him. I can also provide testimonial letters from the following groups to prove that I have personally provided photographic services, on a volunteer basis, and totally free of charge:- Sparkle (The National Trans gender Celebration), Village Manchester Football Team, Body Positive, GHT, Pride Sports, Manchester Pride & LGF. I also have a “Thank You” Certificate from the Home Office for my volunteering.

    The photographs on Exposure, and previously in my own name on Flickr have always been of the people, for the people, and totally free to download providing they are for personal use only.

  4. Not Happy says:

    For the first time last year our group decided to book a stand at the lifestyle exhibition and all I can say is it was an experience. We had a group of drunk lout sit down on our table who proceeded to vomit and urinate all over our materials not to mention the cheapo seat. I and my husband are both retired and disabled and were told we could not have an extra chair. We were even willing to pay for one just for the comfort! A volunteer offered to fetch us one from the VIP Tent but she never came back. We saw here as we were leaving being sick behind the porta-loos and shouting abuse at people. We decided not to return on the Monday since two boxes of our very expensive leaflets had been destroyed not to mention our physical wellbeing after being shoved in the farthest corner of the exhibition area for the previous two days with no offer of refreshments.

    In total taking part in manchester pride 2008 cost our organisation more than it was worth.

    * float £1500.00 (most of that was the fee)
    * license to hand out fliers on deansgate (£80.00)
    * insurance for our float (£250.00)
    * insurance to cover the lifestyle stand (£140.00)
    * lifestyle exhibition stand cost (£50.00)
    * extra wristband
    * parking in manchester city centre (£18.00)
    * cost of materials destroyed by drunks (£300.00)
    * cost of extra ticket for 2 volunteers because pride would only give us two passes (£30.00)
    * cost to me and my partner personally in poor-quality, overpriced food and refreshments (£20.00)

    it simply is not fair. how much of the above money spent out of our own pockets as unpaid volunteers on benefits went into the pockets of companies who make a lot more and give nothing back? this take take take culture must stop. people are making a LOT of money and we are only a small group. i feel manchester pride is a fantastic event and i will continue to support it and take part every year but the expense to us is beginning to outweigh the benefits sorry.

  5. the screeming banshee says:

    fair play to paul jones for explaining what manchester pride have failed to do. it seems as if they are doing the legitimate groups and projects a disservice by only providing a vague line or two about the grants they give out and what they are for. if the mighty truthseeking gay mafia watch can be so bold as to jump to such conclusions then imagine what the general public must think! the perception is that people connected to manchester pride over the years in one form or another are funding private projects under the guise of “small community groups” with the specific purpose of providing professional services to private profit making-enterprises?

    as a trans women trying to run a support group with very little money or support from our so called “LGB&T COMMUNITY” i am appalled to hear less then £2000 was given to transgender/transsexual organisations.

    i propose this year that the powers that be ensure a dedicated transgender fund is provided so that we get the money that WE deserve put back into our community. i’m sure trans people contributed a little more than a measly two grand to pride and the mostly young/middled aged gay male and lesbian festival thats main objective is to support those less fortunate than they are.

  6. Concerned says:

    the screeming banshee I see you ignore the fact that someone has apparently been smeared here and had his name blackened. It shouldn’t be up to people to turn up and defend themselves all over the internet. If the information is false it shouldn’t have been published in the first place.

  7. Thank you Paul for clarification on what Exposure is. Until now the majority of people who have been asked to part with their cash have been left in the dark when it comes to the extent of Manchester Pride’s actual ‘charitable’ interests.

    Funny how the photos in the Exposure Flickr group by user name “timpickstone” seem to have been removed. Is Tim Pickstone not an amateur photographer also?

    The point of this article is to get answers – answers that so far we’ve been unable to find.

    In regards to assuming your “community group” (which offers “free” services to a number of commercial operations) to be a false project we shall honor your request to retract and make an apology for that statement. Until Manchester Pride can explain what exactly it funds in more detail these assumptions will continue to be made. Perhaps the Manchester Pride website could be updated to offer more clarification and perhaps you could ask them to add a link to your Flickr page so the public can see for themselves what their Wristband money is actually being spent on?

    Further clarification will be added the the original article in RED shortly as requested in the proceeding comments.

    It is not libelous to simply make observations and express opinions but thank you for your comments anyway, it does seem like many of the conclusions we’ve come to are in fact true given Paul Jones feedback. He has confirmed that Exposure started as a private project run by an individual that couldn’t get funded in the past because that would be against the rules and all of a sudden it became a “community group” so it could get around this rule.

    Each year Manchester Pride spends £££’s on advertising for volunteers in nearly all the national gay press and local media such as the Manchester Evening news. Ins’t it funny how one of the few roles they never advertise for is a photographer?

    Please accept our apologies for any distress caused by your choosing to become affiliated with and funded by an organisation that has less honorable connections and intentions.

  8. Paul Jones says:

    Fuck You

  9. 40tears440years says:

    It is usually the case that there is no smoke without fire! However, as with most journalism, the above article seems to peppered with half-truths and inaccuracies and it is written and reads as a diatribe and a nonsense that strikes at the heart of Manchester’s gay community.

    Is it not usually the case to have all the facts before publishing an article like this that tars all community groups, that benefit from the small grants issued, with the same brush?

    Get you act together gaymafiawatch

  10. Paul Jones says:

    Just to set the record straight, I do not offer a free professional service to commerercial companies, as they do not get a copy of the photos. it just happens to be the venue where the people are that I want to photograph.

    As to the value of my work well if its a published photo of the Manchester LGBT community, I would say that 90% of the time it will have been taken by me, no matter where in the world you will see it, and its been that way for the last 8 years or so

  11. Insider says:

    how can the lesbian & gay foundation justify getting so much out of the pride fund when as this article says only one application per organisation is allowed?

    everyone knows pride and the village are big money-makers for organised crime and gangster types anyway and that is what scares me the most. just dont give em a penny as they dont know what to do with it, spend it on pointless stuff that helps no one except themselves and blacklist or witch-hunt anyone who dares speak iut against them.

  12. PlusMan says:

    Sadly the distribution of monies to relevant worthy causes from “Manchester Pride” likely won’t even pay for medication for those infected with HIV (to say nothing of other STIs) at the annual profiteering drug-fuelled shagfast that we all know and some love.

  13. walking away says:

    For many years my organisation and myself have had a very visible presence at pride, both in the parade and at the ‘community expo’. This year will be the first time were not attending due to this horrible unfairness of the distribution of funding by manchester pride and the monopoly the LGF continue to have on our gay community.

    I am appsolutly ashamed to have spent many years giving our cash and support to manchester pride honestly believing it to be a ‘community event’ that folllowing the weekend good work would be able to be carried on by pride funding new initiatives and community based projects, now sadly unless its a project by the LGF then funding seems to be impossible to acquire!

    The 40 strong of us who usualy go each year for most the weekend, spend hours putting a float together, hundreds of man hours on the expo stall and spending our hard earned cash on over priced alcohol and food are instead organising our own pride even together, after all isnt pride about working lcoser with those in our commuinity? i urge you all to do the same!

  14. rusty scruff says:

    Only just stumbled on this blog, i like…regarding Manchester Pride (among others), these are my thoughts, better late than never…Can’t say i’m surprised…the Manchester Inner City Arts Limited Not-for-Profit Charity Proctor and Gamble Sponsored Grant Aided Publicly Funded EU Recognised Company Service Independent Investor in People Approved Self-Governing Totally Accountable to Carefully Chosen Board Members Community Outreach Project and Private Consultancy to Local Authorities and Other Channels of Financial Opportunities on A Commercial Business Model Drop-in Centre and Community Creche Run for and By The Locally Co-ordinated Fully Participated Community of Co-operative Tenants of Housing Associations and Private Economically Active Residents Multifaith Prayer Room and Toy Library Network has always been nowt but a blatant gravy train, some of leaders of these ‘community’ organisations have got more front that Blackpool, it’s so patently obvious that they’re in it for themselves…there is a clique at work, a clique that believes itself to be above the riff raff, i.e. the people they’re supposed to represent, ha!…don’t make me laugh!…on the whole i’ve found them to be a thoroughly unpleasant bunch of liggers, spongers and smiling assassins with an propensity to turn nasty and underhand should anyone dare to question them (or show their true colours if truth be told)…personally, i wouldn’t piss if they were on fire…glad i didn’t go Pride, went to Creamfields instead.

    Well done for this investigation…It’s about time this despicable lot were exposed, nice one…

  15. […] attending not to have to chuck away a tenner or more on a ticket, just as it’s in the interest of the Marketing Manchester businessmen lining their pockets with Pride money to charge as much as possible. So, what would a radical intervention into Pride actually look like? […]

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