Manchester Pride Live has had some pretty memorable headliners since it began just a few years ago – from LGBTQ+ allies Ariana Grande and Rita Ora, to queer artists such as Yung Blud and Olly Alexander. But while the musical addition to the weekender appeared to be a major success, it came with numerous flaws – including the festival being seen as more of a ‘pop concert’ than a fundraiser for the cause, as well as issues with overcrowding – particularly when Ariana Grande headlined.
Now, the charity is going back to its roots, removing the ‘Live’ element altogether and focusing on the elements of the weekender that are the most important to the community.
Following a six-month review and consultation with LGBTQ+ people in the North West, the festival will now refocus its efforts on activism, putting an emphasis on the annual Gay Village Party instead of Manchester Pride Live. The Parade, The Candlelit Vigil, Superbia Weekend, Youth Pride MCR, Family Pride MCR and Human Rights Forum will also continue to proceed this year, helping to reflect the areas of the festival that the LGBTQ+ community care about the most.
Other changes include the addition of ‘low income’ ticketing for members of the community that would like to be included in events and the introduction of ‘quiet spaces’ at Pride events, alongside a commitment from the Board of Trustees to be more visible and accessible to members of the community.
Paul Wheeler, Chair of Manchester Pride’s board of Trustees, said: “Manchester Pride should be something everyone feels proud of and can see a little bit of themselves reflected back in.
“We acknowledge we got some things wrong last year and we’re sorry for the upset and frustration this caused. It is important that Manchester Pride reflects what Manchester’s LGBTQ+ communities tell us they want and this review has shown how we can do better. The communities have been clear in saying their must-have elements over the weekend specifically include The Parade, The Candlelit Vigil and the Gay Village Party, whereas MCR Pride Live was seen as less important to furthering our cause.
“First and foremost, we’re a campaigning charity fighting for equality and opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals across Greater Manchester, and the response from across our communities corroborates that position. We want more input into the charity’s operation, with a greater focus on campaigning, lobbying and education, whilst seeing fewer celebrity headline acts at MCR Pride Live.
“That’s why we’re going back to our roots, our Pride celebration is about protest. As a result, we’ve listened to the communities’ comments, and will address their recommendations to refocus efforts back towards activism. Furthermore, we will commit a fixed amount or percentage of each ticket purchase to Pride events directly to the community fund and provide clarity on where the remainder of the amounts generated from ticket sales is attributed.”
Adding: “The organisation has sought to address big questions and concerns, such as the role of Pride as a protest movement as opposed to a pop concert, how Pride can be more accessible, inclusive and safer, and how we go about giving grants. We’ve also tried to address how we can be more transparent and connected as an organisation to Greater Manchester’s LGBTQ+ communities, surrounding the themes of communities, activism, giving and transparency.
“Ensuring the charity now reflects the needs of our communities is now our focus. We don’t see this review as the end of the conversation, rather it’s the start. This report marks the beginning of more co-creation, more transparency and more listening.”
Manchester Pride will take place this August Bank Holiday weekend.