Manchester Pride a “purely commercial operation” claims gay business leader

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A leading member of Manchester’s gay village has attacked the organisation and running of the city’s Pride events.

In an open letter Phil Burke, who is Chair of The Village Business Association and a member of the board of Pride, said:

“The general feeling amongst the businesses, and a vast number of attendees, is that we no longer have a Manchester Pride that is an annual celebration of the LGBT community and The Gay Village.

“What we now have is Marketing Manchester’s Pride.”

The VBA is made up of all the businesses within the gay village, “who work together to promote, protect and develop the area.”

Mr Burke accused Pride of holding businesses “to ransom” over contributions, accreditations and licensing.

“What could and should be a community-driven event is now a purely commercial operation, with absolutely no regard or thought given to the community itself,” he said.

“Established gay village operators are shunned and overlooked for non entity, non gay organisations that just have bigger purses.

“The corporate face and commerciality of Pride is blatantly and forcibly enforced over and above the community and its participants.

Mr Burke said he wants “an open, transparent and fair debate on where we go from here.”

Jackie Crozier, Manchester Pride’s festival manager, told

“The festival only finished on Monday but we already know that it was a huge success – both as an event and as a fundraising endeavour, which, after all is at the very heart of what Manchester Pride is all about.

“Of course, individuals will have different opinions about the organisation and execution of Manchester Pride and they are welcome to raise them with us.

“As one of our key stakeholders, we very much value the dialogue we have with the Village Business Association.

“Indeed, their chairman is represented on the board of Manchester Pride and there are two other owners of businesses within the village also on the board. “Whilst Phil Burke is clearly unhappy with aspects of this year’s event, he is expressing that opinion as an individual, not on behalf of the Village Business Association.

“Many of the businesses in the village have already told us how happy they are with this year’s event.

“We consult with the Village Business Association early in the planning process of the event and we look forward to continuing that healthy dialogue early in the planning process of Manchester Pride 2009.”

This week Queer Youth Network claimed that Manchester Pride is becoming an exclusively commercial event.

“Pride is losing touch with what it was originally meant to be,” said Jack Holroyde, the group’s campaigns director.

“The event is meant to be a celebration of our sexuality.

“A ticket charge means that young people and other underrepresented groups can’t get into Pride,” he said.

“It seems to be very one-sided and rarely do we see trans, BME (black and multi-ethnic) or young people there,” he added.

The youth group are pushing the local council for a bursary that would allow under-represented groups a chance to attend the Gay Village festivities.

This year was the 18th that Manchester has held some sort of Pride event. 87 floats took part in parade from Deansgate to Piccadilly.