Pride Glasgow privately responded to our open letter and have asked us to share their response with you all:
Dear Free Pride
Thank you for your open letter,
In response to the points you raised thank you for doing so. I am unaware why our organisation was not contacted directly as we are always available to explain how the organisation runs and explain any financial expenditures. However, we have no issue with discussing this on a public forum to ensure transparency to all. I would also like you to know that anyone can join our steering group to have more of an input into the whole process of Pride Glasgow.
It was with regret that Pride Glasgow introduced charging for the event in 2014. This was to ensure the financial stability of the organisation and to ensure the event can continue for future years. With the introduction of the charge we created the Pride Fund which guaranteed that £1 from each ticket sold is reinvested directly into the community. This was done to create a legacy for the community by encouraging to groups to set up and run activities.
We offer the chance for people to be involved with the event at no cost, our Youth Zone remains free to ensure that young LGBTQIA people are able to access support and information via the Youth Zone. Our Volunteer programme allows anyone to get involved and be part of the event and in return for supporting us for 4 hours or more on the run up to the festival or during the festival itself will receive entry to the event at no cost as well as being able to take part in the Pride Life Volunteer Programming. The Pride Life Volunteer Programme is designed to support and empower participants in gaining new skills that can be transferred to social, employment and educational settings. Part of this programmes aims to reduce social isolation. The majority of these events take place away from the scene and the drinking centric culture that you mentioned. We are proud to see people benefit from this experience and value their commitment and time to the event it would not be possible without them.
Pride Glasgow’s Parade is also still one of the most political Pride Parades in the UK. The march is free and all policing costs are met by us. Unlike other Prides we do not restrict the parade to organisations and companies wishing to take part and it is open to everyone. We ask that larger walking groups and floats register with us in advance to ensure that we can plan the parade correctly and ensure the correct steward ratio as required by Glasgow City Council’s rules on parades and processions. We hope to see a FREE Pride bloc join us this year. We use the parade as the most visible aspect of the event to raise awareness of the issues faced by the LGBTQIA community.
I would like you to appreciate how far Pride Glasgow has come. From being overcharged by Glasgow City Council over the years and having to protest against this and send open letters to get public support. To the event being dumped in a gravel laden carpark last year we have daily ongoing battles trying to maintain that we get to hold this event every year and are met with many barriers in trying to do this. We hope you understand that Pride Glasgow has met many obstacles and opposition from the city and are glad that we have managed to continue to put this event on. We have tried to make the event as inclusive as possible and accessible as possible. Last year we introduced as safe area where our trans family could go and meet up. This was met with some criticism and issues which we have tried to improve on for this year.
We explained the reasons behind charging in 2014 in a post which can still be found on our website or social media pages and these reasons still exist and in fact have become greater. The introduction of Glasgow City Council’s new charges for the use of parks and precincts have increased the expenditure of the event alongside the introduction of charges from Police Scotland for all events.
The costs involved in running the main event has gradually increased each year and. We are required to pay the Council for the venue, the police for providing policing services to the event. The introduction of the requirement for a Public Entertainment Licence also put pressure on us as we need to ensure that we meet each licence requirement. The event has to be insured, council rules mean we need to enclose the event with fencing and we need to meet licencing requirements for toilets and security all of which are costly. As an organisation we do not receiving funding for the event from local or national government (unlike many other events) and rely on commercial sponsorship and involvement to fund the majority of the festival, in recent years that support has been lower with many organisations and companies facing a tighter squeeze on their finances and not able to support the event as much as they might have had in previous years. Many of the acts that perform do so for a small fee and others that incur larger fees are met by local business who benefit hugely from the community. We support this arrangement as we believe that local businesses should contribute financially to the event if they wish to do so. We do not benefit from the drinking centric profits that you assume we make. We tender the bar out to an independent company every year and do this in order to raise money to stage the event.
Our Accounts are published each year and as explained on the Website we entered an extended accounting year to bring the accounting reference date into line with the festival dates. The accounts for 01 May 2013 – 30 September 2014 and these are due to be lodged with OSCR and made available on our website at the end of June 2015 in line with the statutory timescales given to us to have them prepared, examined and approved.
Our Theme for this year is happiness we want to be able to celebrate having the first pride since equal marriage became law and celebrate 20 years of Pride events in Scotland. We are upset that you have an issue with the happiness theme and do feel that although we still face huge discrimination and isolation as a community we should be able to celebrate positive changes where we can. This does not mean that we think the LGBQTIA community is free from every day stigma and barriers.
We have tried over recent years to highlight what it costs to put the event on and the lack of support from public bodies including the council for the event. We would like the event to have been able to remain free and hopefully we will be able to go back to the free model one day. In the meantime we need to be able to ensure the sustainability of the organisation and the event and have been left with no other choice but to introduce ticket charges for the main event to ensure that the festival can continue to happen.
We think it is fantastic that you want an alternative to what we offer and would support you in your efforts to do this. We are here to support you with any knowledge or information that you need as we understand how hard it is to start from the beginning. We are sorry that no one from our team is there tonight and hope to make it along to meet everyone at some point. We are in full support of there being many different aspects to Pride as it is something that holds different meaning for everyone and way of celebrating or protesting varies from person to person. We are glad to see different alternatives being created as it demonstrates how diverse our community is from within.
We hope to be able to maintain a good working relationship with your movement as we have no desire to be in opposition with any one in our community.