Mardi Gras, GayFest, Europride 2003
& Manchester Pride 2004 & 2005<
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annual gay event began small and with the best of
intentions. Now businesses make tens of millions, the public pays a fortune and
less goes to good causes
the money raised by various venues:
PINKWORKS - £18104.50
HOLLYWOOD - £7719.65
CRUZ/METTZ/NAPS - £6041.60
VIA FOSSA - £5712.00
SPIRIT - £4665.10
NEW UNION - £4234.80
VANILLA/EVENTS - £4124.60
UNI CHALLENGE - £3298.00
ESSENTIAL - £3293.40
THOMPSONS - £3285.70
MANHATTAN - £2433.32
PARADE - £1892.70
COMPOUND - £1867.50
COMPANY - £1838.40
PRAGUE 5 - £1677.90
PADDYS GOOSE - £1581.50
WOMENS AREA - £1497.12
CHURCHILLS - £1358.00
bERLIN - £1312.40
PARADISE - £1142.00
POPTASTIC - £1131.00
REMBRANDT - £1128.80
TREE OF LIFE - £1100.00
VIGIL - £1003.10
MANTO - £911.80
WELLS FARGO - £770.70
BAR 38 - £761.90
BARBELOW - £683.70
BAR MED - £484.30
HELLFIRE - £450.00
PIRANHA - £447.60
GAIA - £423.70
BAR RISA - £421.30
TAURUS - £351.60
YATES WINE LODGE - £335.54
RETRO BAR - £301.60
NEW YORK - £264.00
VELVET - £210.10
SLUG/ LETTUCE - £141.90
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL - £137.30
BULLS HEAD - £116.60
CLONE ZONE - £53.80
ELECTRIC TATTOO - £6.30
the money raised by various venues (totals on 2 Sep 2002)
£4,607.08 The Hollywood
£4,566.30 Via Fossa
£2,788.25 New Union
£1,759.33 The Rembrandt
£1,386,99 Prague V
£1,324.64 Bar 38
£802.96 Slug & Lettuce
£758.06 Bar Med
£347.38 46 Canal Street
£1,723.89 Thompson’s Arms
£1,101.35 Bar Baa
£1,090.73 New York NY
£820.89 Wells Fargo
£773.83 Bar Risa
£1,514.85 Company Bar
£695.25 Paddy’s Goose
£483.90 [email protected]
£5,574.09 Cruz 101
£3,736.00 Uni Challenge (more to come)
£1,287.06 Vanilla Club Nights
£1,105.73 Paradise Factory
£474.00 Sugar Pops
ALL THE REST
£5,014.02 Volunteer Collections
£390.64 Clone Zone
£154.11 Hollywood Hotel
£28.31 Northern Waves
£26.44 Basement Sauna
£6.87 H2O Sauna
£65,007.78 Grand Total
Operation Fundraiser figures:
Other Fundraising at EuroPride: (Parade, Vigil, nightclubs etc)
£387,210 TOTAL INCOME
Contribution to EuroPride to pay for the security and costs of the "Big Weekend"
Tickets, Wristbands and Box Office
Staff Member and Admin
Advertising, Marketing and Information
TOTAL AMOUNT RAISED
I contacted the Festival Organiser several times between January and August 2004,
by e-mail, mail and telephone. But she was unable to give me any detailed breakdown
of that £200,000 'contribution' cost.
In March 2005 finally I was given a breakdown of Europride 2003 expenditure. Total
costs were £556,000.
I was told by the Festival Organiser that there were no figures for venues in
2003, as funds were raised through the wristband. However, the Operation Fundraiser
site later published this info.
I don't know if any of these collections financed the costs of Europride. Communications
tend to go dead when you start asking about costs. But it does give an idea which
venues are doing the most.
Date: 31st Mar 2004
raised so far in 2003-2004
7th Birthday Tuesday 1st April raised £1953.40
Bender @ Essential Saturday 3rd April raised £1521.35
Dabble @ Sankeys soap Wednesday 9th April raised £42.78
Legends Saturday 26th April 2003 raised £385.00
18th - 20th April
Churchills raised £264
Via Fossa raised £1879.06
Rembrandt raised £197.73
Cruz 101 raised £796.07
Poptastic raised £500.00
Sugarpops raised £350.00
Vanilla raised £240.45
Legends raised £213.85
Basement Sauna raised £18.43
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 3rd May raised £1654.16
Bears Weekend Saturday 3rd May raised £272.57
Legends Saturday 10th May raised £421.00
Taurus Sunday 17th May raised £121.48
Poptastic Saturday 24th May raised £323.65
Via Fossa Sunday 25th May raised £180.18
Spirit Sunday 25th May raised £900.12
Heat Sauna tin raised £12.80
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 7th June raised £1357.04
Taurus 12th June raised £150.10
Essential Birthday weekend Fri 20th & Sat 21st June raised £2072.58
Legends Saturday 28th June raised £345.00
Bar Below £93.64
Thompsons Arms £21.96
46 Canal St £15.74
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 5th July raised £1304.28
Poptastic 12th July raised £700.00
Legends 26th July raised £239.28
Non Europride fundraising!
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 2nd August raised £1514.14
Legends Saturday 2nd August raised £365.00
Prague IV £89.23
Thompsons Arms £20.71
46 Canal St £2.69
Heat Sauna £38.14
Basement Sauna £84.53
Wells Fargo £10.49
Europride Office £22.68
Clone Zone £91.57
Bar 38 £67.32
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 6th raised £1221.69
Bender @ Essential
Saturday 4th raised £1311.63
Clone Zone Fetish night @ Via Fossa raised £310.71
Bender @ Essential
Sat 1st Nov raised £1433.07
Coyote's Fundraising night raised £1336.37
World Aids Day
Hollywood Showbar raised £2609.24
Vanilla raised £319.27
Queer Bar raised £706.17
Prague V raised £376.51
Essential raised £1605.62
Thompsons Arms raised £317.57
Spirit raised £344.16
Manto Breakfast Club raised £412.00
Baa Bar raised £209.90
Poptastic raised £860.46
Rembrandt raised £123.31
Via Fossa raised £248.20
Clone zone raised £211.69
Paddy's Goose raised £35.85
Taurus raised £84.14
Cruz 101 raised £1070.00
Basement Sauna raised £600.00
Tom Thumbs raised £280.00
Essential Bender raised £1509.08
New Union raised £433.17
Red Ribbon Collection raised £1536.56
Candlelit vigil raised £742.23
Health Authority collection raised £36.64
20th Dec raised £487.99
Via Fossa Mon 21st Dec raised £tbc
In 1999, the event organisers hit on the controversial idea of a 'pledgeband'
-- a bright pink wristband costing £10, which everyone had to buy and wear
to enter gay pubs and clubs during the event.
If you raised any objection to the £10 pledgeband or asked for a reduced-price concessionary band, the organisers would attempt to make you feel mean. Didn't you realise that it was all to help good causes, they would ask. Even if you were unemployed, they would suggest you should pay the full-price to help the charities.
The pink bands didn't work. They made people a target for gay-bashing and a large number
of hetrosexuals seemed to be in the bars and clubs without a band. It almost seemed to be a 'gay tax'. Ironically, some of the
straight people who wore a band got 'gay-bashed' too.
There were many rumours: of hundreds of bands being given out for free to those
who knew the right people; of politicians booking hotel rooms that were charged
to Mardi Gras, rather than travel a few miles home...
Afterwards it emerged that, despite a massive income (£700,000 according
to one source), there was no profit. It had all been spent on 'running' the event,
leaving no money for the charities.
The organisers had spent £25,000 on stars and performers, £21,000
on a video screen, £12,000 on fireworks and who knows what else? The organisers
said security also cost more in 1999, following the bombing
of the gay pub Admiral Duncan in Soho (external link/cached version) in April
of that year.
People across Manchester (gay and straight alike) were absolutely furious and
the rather arrogant Co-ordinator of the event was questioned on local television.
But it seems there was never really any satisfactory investigation nor explanation for
what happened to all that income.
To give just one example of the kind of question that I never saw answered...
Who paid the wages of the Co-ordinator? He seemed to be linked to the City Council
and I understand he also organised the Irish Festival.
Did the City Council pay his wages? Or did they come out of Mardi Gras money?
Were his wages paid fully from Mardi Gras funds, or just partly as he was working
on other projects too? It is interesting to consider this in the light of developments
in later years...
In December 1999, Manchester's gay businesses, charities, community organisations
and members of the public, met and decided it must never happen again. One thing
that came out of this was the annual publication in magazines and on the Internet
of the amounts raised by each venue and the costs.
In its official promotional literature, Manchester City Council boasts that the
1999 Mardi Gras provided an 'estimated £20m boost to the economy'.
SUCCESS IN 2000 & 2001
GayFest -- a smaller and more gay-friendly
event -- was planned and took place on August Bank Holiday 2000. With the promise:
'we guarantee to you that every penny donated will REALLY go direct to the charities'.
£105,212 was raised for the good causes.
In 2001, once again, GayFest was successful
in raising money for charity. Originally I heard the amount was £70,000,
but this gay.com article (archived version) says
more than £100,000. Does anyone know? One of the ways they raised money
was by asking for a £1 donation on the door of each venue.
However in an article, 'Gloria Gaynor Gayfest fiasco' (29 August 2001), the Manchester
Evening News reported that City Council Trading Standards were to investigate
why 'up to 10,000 fans hoping to see the disco diva were disappointed'. They had
all paid £15, but it seemed that Gloria Gaynor's management team had never
heard of the event and there was no booking.
Councillor Pat Karney, town hall spokesman on gay issues, was quoted as saying
he had been 'inundated with complaints'. It seemed that war was breaking out between
the City Council and the organisers and some of it was rather petty-minded...
On 24 September 2001, The Independent newspaper reported on attempts to bring
Europride to Manchester in 2003 and revealed that relations between the organisers
and Manchester City Council had reached a new low point. The City Council had
declared that Europride might not be welcome and the organisers had considered
moving the event to a neighbouring town (Trafford, Bury or Salford):
The article continues to say that, after it fell under 'the aegis' of the City
Council in 1998, many people felt that the gay element was being removed by 'municipal
influence'. Especially when the name of the events was changed to remove the words
'gay' and 'lesbian':
'They wanted to make the event more of a party for Manchester,' according to Julian
Lyons, a Europride bid co-ordinator.
The article continues: 'Manchester City Council's representatives on gay and lesbian
issues are demanding greater involvement than they are being offered by the gay
community if they are to support the Europride bid.'
In April 2002, the Manchester Online website reported that GayFest organiser Julia
Grant had sold her bars and had left the UK. So the 2002 event reverted to the
jinxed name 'Mardi Gras'.
2002: THE ON/OFF/ON MARDI GRAS
In the week leading up to Mardi Gras 2002, it emerged that there was
a dispute between the organisers, the City Council and the Police over safety
and, with just days to go, the event was officially cancelled.
Was this a deliberate attempt by 'certain parties' to sabotage Mardi Gras because
they had been excluded from the running of it in 2000 and 2001? Some people thought
It is interesting to note that, in 2004, Manchester City Council caused divisons
within the city's Caribbean community by encouraging and 'sponsoring' a new,
more commercial, Caribbean Carnival. This seemed to be an attempt to destroy the existing Caribbean Carnival that had run for the previous 37 years.
However, so far, it has failed. Manchester still has two Caribbean Carnivals each year: one in July and (the City Council sponsored) one in August.
Read more here: Battle
of the carnivals (external site) and note how the brand new Caribbean Carnival
'immediately won financial backing' from Manchester City Council.
Back to Mardi Gras 2002... On the Thursday (the day before Mardi Gras was due
to start) it was announced that it was back on again.
Though, unfortunately, this was too late for some people and for one major club
night at The Printworks, which remained cancelled.
One welcome change in 2002 was that the money to run the event was raised beforehand
by the Village Business Association and the charities were directly involved in
the fundraising during it.
A rather-illiterate press release from George House Trust (archived version here),
dated 18 August 2002, mentions 'Operation Fundraiser' and says of it:
'Cutting out any uneccessary (sic) extra structures has meant that for the first
time 100% of what (sic) is donated over the weekend will go to charities with
noting (sic) deducted for administrative expenses or the cost of the event.'
The event produced £65,000 for charity. The Mardi Gras website lists total costs
as £106,000, including a £13,000 charge by Manchester City
Council for cleaning the streets during the three-day event.
EUROPRIDE 2003 & MANCHESTER PRIDE 2004
With the 2002 organisers conveniently discredited and Manchester City Council back onboard in a big way, this philosophy of transferring
the costs to the gay public gathered further ground in 2003. This is when the
event seemed to fall into the hands of a group of people who were extremely adept
at manipulating facts, figures and the public to get what they wanted.
of Manchester's businesses and the City Council didn't like smaller events. They
liked the £20m that was brought into the City back in 1999 by that huge,
not-very-gay-friendly Mardi Gras.
The problem was, the businesses and City Council didn't want to pay more to fund
a bigger Pride. They wanted the gay public to pay for a large part of it. But
how could they persuade the public to do that?
Something rather devious was cooked up...
Operation Fundraiser at Pride in 2003
In 2003, Manchester
hosted Europride. Ten days of events that
ended with the Mardi Gras weekend.
A much bigger event and, suddenly, there was less separation between the funding
raised to cover the running costs of Pride and the charity fundraising.
The pledgeband/wristband returned in 2003. A 'poll-tax' on anyone who wanted to
enter Gay Village bars and clubs over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Operation Fundraiser collected £387,210 from wristband sales and collection buckets, but had agreed to hand over £200,000 that it collected at Europride
2003, to cover the costs of running the event. Operation Fundraiser spent a further £59,520
on its own costs (see side column) leaving just £127,690 for good causes.
So, basically, the names of the charities involved in Operation Fundraiser were
being used as a lever to get the maximum amount of money out of the public for
And this arrangement meant that all kinds of clever phrases could be used in the
publicity material. For example: 'all ticket sales for the weekend go directly
to Operation Fundraiser'.
As the public had been told the previous year that 100% of the money collected
by Operation Fundraiser would go to charity, the new arrangement was misleading
to say the least. A huge lump sum of money that had been given by the public to
a group of charities was effectively handed over to the tourist board for
Manchester (see below).
This was a record amount (£127,690) raised for charity. But not that much
more than from the much smaller and free GayFest back in 2000, when £105,000 was
30% of Operation Fundraiser money went to good causes in 2003
The bottom line is that the public were giving much more money. Yet
only about 30% of the price of your wristband in 2003 actually went to the good
causes. The same applies to any money you put into Operation Fundraiser collection
buckets. Most of it went on increased running costs.
Total costs in 2003 were astronomical compared to 2002. £556,000 in 2003
and just £106,000 in 2002. The organisers say this was because it was a
ten-day event instead of a long weekend. I'm not convinced...
The spirit of openness, that the public had demanded after the disaster of 1999, had now gone. Suddenly it was difficult to get figures. When I wrote, I was asked 'why' I wanted to know. I was bounced around from one person to another. Emails and letters went unanswered.
Sixteen months after the event finished, and after asking many times, finally I
got a breakdown of costs. It emerged that there were no separate accounts
for Europride 2003. It was all part of the accounts for 'Marketing Manchester',
which describes itself on its own website as 'the Tourist Board for Greater Manchester'.
Interesting to see, then, that £71,136 was spent on marketing. An incredible £31,136 on UK marketing and £40,000
on international marketing. That £40,000 came from a grant from the Regional Development Agency. Compare that to the previous year when total costs for the entire Mardi Gras event were only £106,000...
When you consider that only about 36,000 tickets are sold each year, and only
about £130,000 is raised for good causes, you can see how extraordinary
this marketing cost is. Who is the event being 'marketed' to? Surely not the
gay community, as Manchester Pride is known about, far and wide, in the UK and around the world.
Odd too, that despite this huge spend on marketing, attendance
figures seem to be going down.
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