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Activists in Manchester gathered outside the Pride offices on Monday to protest at the delays in releasing charity donation figures following the festival earlier this year.
Despite a range of longstanding campaign issues about fences, exclusion and ticket prices, the most pressing concern on this occasion was the money raised. Tony Cooper, the Manager of Via and a former Deputy Chair of the Village Business Association, is one of the business people who expected a fundraising total to be announced last Friday, but it never came. He blasted Pride in a public statement last week, writing: ‘I love Manchester Pride and have attended every one but what I am hearing and seeing now is beyond worrying.’
Over the weekend rumours swirled that, despite the usual near £1 million income, the charity money had hit rock bottom, in the region of £20,000 to £29,000.
Protest organiser Geoff Stafford told So So Gay: ‘The first part of the protest was outside the offices of Manchester Pride on Portland Street, which is just yards from the gay village, where we shouted, “Manchester Pride you’re a disgrace, come down here and show your face!”. Needless to say, they didn’t.
‘On the grapevine we heard that the protest was the “talk of the gay village”, with over 75 people joining our Facebook group in the last two days. I think that reflects a general feeling that there’s something wrong here, when a registered charity only gives 3.7% of income to good causes.’
After an hour, the protesters walked the short distance to the town hall, but, finding the central square fenced off, they decided to occupy the reception area.
One banner that was waved carried the message ‘our Pride charity is not your tourist cash cow’ – a reference to claims published by Manchester Council that Pride generates up to £22 million of economic benefit for the city each year.
No-one at the Manchester Pride offices responded to a request for comment.
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