Brighton council to discuss plans to expand Pride festival

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Plans to expand Brighton’s annual LGBT festival will be debated by the city’s council this week.

In a bid to make the event more financially sustainable, organisers are now looking to extend the running time of the ticket-only Saturday party in Preston Park by four hours. Ideas including a Friday night comedy performance and a Sunday proms-type concert in the park have also been proposed.

Paul Kemp, of Brighton Pride Community Interest Company, said: “Plans are very much in the exploratory stage but it is our intention that any future developments would broaden the entertainment offering of Pride weekend to appeal to a greater cross-section of Brighton’s diverse communities”.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s economic culture committee will discuss the proposals on Thursday. The council looks set to give Pride organisers a guarantee they can use Preston Park on the first weekend in August until at least 2016.

Chair of the culture committee Cllr Geoffrey Bowden said: “The council is very keen that Pride succeeds and raises lots of money for local LGBT charities. So we’re looking at these ideas, aimed at helping them recover more of their costs and generate more for those charities supporting and delivering vital services to the local LGBT community.

“Extra dates would give an opportunity to stage events attracting audiences beyond the LGBT community, and perhaps wider age groups. We are looking to do much to remember the sacrifices of WW1 next year so the suggestion for a related event on the Sunday is a good one for the committee to consider.”

However, some local residents living close to Preston Park have expressed concern that extending Pride could cause greater disruption.

Figures show this year’s event generated £13.5 million for Brighton and Hove’s economy with around 160,000 people attending. The cost of using Preston Park is £400,000.

Last month, Brighton and Hove City Council said Pride no longer required an annual grant of £25,000 because the event is now in better financial health – although the Pride committee said it was “disappointed” at the decision.