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Friday 6 November 2009

LGF receives award from hardship fund / Manchester Pride announces 2009 community fund

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation has been awarded £121,165 from a hardship fund that is run by the Community Development Foundation.

To qualify, an organisation must be suffering ‘financial hardship as a result of the recession’. The fund money is intended for ‘organisations in England who are delivering front-line services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society.’ A list of recipients can be seen in this PDF.

Back in May I suggested that the LGF was experiencing a funding crisis. I’d received a tip-off that its magazine Outnorthwest was owed a substantial amount of money by advertisers who hadn’t paid up. Three weeks later, in an interview on a media industry website, the editor admitted that some hadn’t paid their bills.

And I highlighted the fact that the LGF had a permanent staff of twenty-three in 2008.

It is still recruiting. An ad in the August/September 2009 issue of Outnorthwest advertised a vacancy for a Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive. This vacancy had come about due to the ‘career progression’ of the previous Executive Assistant. Duties include managing the diary and work programme of the Chief Executive. The salary is £22,683 – £25,676 plus 10% pension.

COMMUNITY FUND

Meanwhile Manchester Pride has announced a 2009 Community Fund of £33,750.

This represents one quarter of the £135,000 that was raised for charity by Pride this year. The other 75% has been been divided equally between George House Trust, the condom and lube scheme and the LGF.

Any group or project working in Greater Manchester can apply for a maximum grant of £1,000 from the fund though they’re warned they may not get the full amount.

Of course any funding for groups is great. But it’s hard not to compare the paltry sum of £33,750, which more than 33 groups must fight over, with the £121,165 of hardship money the LGF has just received.

In the financial year ending 2008 the LGF had income of £1,122, 280 and 55% of that came from the NHS.

HOW BUSINESSES PROFIT FROM THE CHARITY ASPECT

Another way of looking at the £33,750 Community Fund figure is that it is less than one-third of the amount that the UniChallenge club night will have taken on the door alone, on a single night during Manchester Pride.

UniChallenge sells around 4,500 tickets and this year they cost £23, giving the event a potential income of £103,500. In previous years the event has given a piddling £1 from each ticket and as the entry price has increased each year that quid has represented an ever-smaller and more embarrassing percentage. This year Unichallenge didn’t even mention on its website exactly how much it would give. Just that it has given a total of £56,000 since 1999. That old trick of adding together lots of years to make the figure sound bigger.

£1 from a £23 ticket is just 4.35%. And don’t forget that the UniChallenge donation went into the Manchester Pride money and in 2008 only around 12% of the total Pride income made it to a good cause in the end, because 88% was spent on running costs.

Of course Manchester Pride itself is a charity in its own right now. But in the end, after passing through Manchester Pride, just 12p from each £23 UniChallenge ticket reached a final good cause in 2008. That’s 0.52% of the original ticket price!

The current UniChallenge website says:

‘While you’re all partying over Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend remember why we’re actually here to celebrate Pride… it’s to raise money for charity!’

Oh really? You could have fooled me. Trade Descriptions Act anyone?

If that’s the case, why doesn’t UniChallenge donate more and give it direct to an organisation that doesn’t blow 88% of it on paying the police, z-list celebs, security guards etc.? Give it direct to the LGF or to some of those groups and projects.

But maybe it isn’t really about the ‘giving’ at all and the word ‘charity’ is just an extra hook to persuade people to buy an expensive ticket?

g7uk.com is now number three in the Google results for a search for ‘UniChallenge’.

I need to check the figures but I would guess that charges by the street cleaners and the Police during Pride amount to more than the figure the Community Fund has to distribute.

BUSINESSES ARE THE ENEMY

If you thought it was only activists, anarchists and me who said that businesses are our enemy in gay Manchester these days, well think again… You would be very surprised by some of the prominent people who are now expressing that same opinion.

During the boom years, and compared to the profits they made from us, Manchester’s businesses contributed very little to our community and to the running costs of Manchester Pride. Now, with ad income drying up, pressure expected on public services such as the NHS and a possible victory by the Conservatives next year, people are wondering where the money to fund things is going to come from in the future.

No doubt the businesses will plead poverty too, due to the recession. But I predict fireworks in the next few years as they’re told to cough up more cash.

We need strong people at the head of our community. Too often in the past, in the face of demands by the City Council, Police and businesses, the people who run things seem to have been content to roll over and do what they say and put a few extra quid on the price of a Pride ticket or take more cash from the public sector to pay for it all. Which may not be an option in future.

I don’t know how Manchester Pride managed to shore up the charity amount this year. I suspect things aren’t quite as they seem and there will be smaller amounts in years to come.

I get the impression that many people are holding out in the belief that very soon everything will be back to the way it was and they’re trying to prop up things until then. But I can’t see it. Really they’re just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

The bank bailout has cost every household in the country £5,000, which must be paid somehow. The easy credit which fuelled the extravagant lifestyles and the property boom isn’t coming back.

The bottom line will be whether limited funds are being used to best effect. In tougher times, if we are forced to choose, is it better to have one giant organisation or many dozens of smaller ones?


Filed under: Gay,LGBT,Manchester,Politics — GS @ 7:08 am

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