LGBT community groups and HIV organisations that want to have a stall at the ‘Lifestyle Expo’ at this year’s Manchester Pride have been told they will have to pay £50 for the priviledge plus £30 for electricity.
This is a 50% increase on last year’s charge for electricity, which was £20.
Up until 2005 there was no charge at all for these groups to have a stall. One stallholder from previous years said: ‘This is appalling as we had this in 2003 and 2004 for free.’
Another voluntary worker wrote:
‘If there was an ounce of decency in the Village Business Association and Manchester City Council, these costs could easily be absorbed by them, but there is no political will.’
On top of this, stall holders are obliged to have their own public liability insurance certificate, which can add a further £50 to their costs. A £20 deposit is required if they want more than two chairs.
As Manchester Pride brings in more than £20m of income for the city’s businesses and City Council each year, people have asked why cash-starved community groups should be held to ransom in this way.
The public already pays a £10-£15 entry fee to get into the gay village during Pride and some question why this is necessary, given the huge profits for business.
Manchester International Festival, which is predicted to bring £32m of business to the city, has received £2m in sponsorship from Manchester City Council (also see a Council report in pdf format here), while the amount the Council gives Pride is in the tens of thousands. Pride is then charged for services such as refuse collection (a £13,000 cost in 2002).
Some local groups are now talking about a boycott of Manchester Pride’s lifestyle expo, in favour of an alternative community exhibition space at a venue that is free and outside of the fenced off gay village.
In 2006, a £50 fee was introduced for voluntary groups that wanted to walk in the Saturday Pride parade. This made national news headlines when it emerged that the fee even applied to HIV/AIDS groups.
This year, non-funded LGBT/HIV organisations can take part in the parade for free. However, funded LGBT/HIV organisations still have to pay £50 + VAT. While none LGBT/HIV charities are charged £175 + VAT and Public Sector/Services pay £225 + VAT.
The distribution of any free material at the parade, including leaflets, stickers or food products (ie. sweets) is now banned unless it is with the consent of Manchester City Council and a fee of between £55 and £405 has been paid to them. There is a £2,500 fine otherwise. Charity, political and religious literature is exempt.
Manchester’s August Bank Holiday gay, lesbian, bi and transgender event started in 1990, as little more than a jumble sale, to raise money for those who were affected by HIV and AIDS. Here are some photographs from happier days in 1990.