Sunday, February 8, 2009

More with the Atl Pride Committee Open Letter

A week or so ago, I posted an open letter from the Atlanta Pride Committee. Two people left comments that I felt deserved responses. I asked Deirdre Heffernan, the Atlanta Pride Board Chair, to respond to the comments. Within a few days of receiving the comments, Deirdre sent her responses. Now, that is all kinds of fabulous! Without anymore of rambling, here are the comments with Deirdre's responses.

from Jess:
I wonder how 2 major events (AIDS Walk and Pride) both asking for money only weeks apart is going to work in the best interest of both, especially in our financial climate. They're quite important events, and deserve our money, but I can't help but think that people are going to pick one or the other to donate to.

Deirdre's Response:
Good question. Couple of thoughts on that.... First, typically businesses earmark the amount of sponsorship dollars in their annual budget. So it does not significantly matter when the event happens. For example, if a business decides they are interested in sponsoring Aids Walk and Pride during the upcoming fiscal year, the dollars are added to the budget, and events will get supported without much relevance on the timing of the two events. In other words, they do not make decisions on how much and who to give it to on a month to month bases. Secondly, I would say there is certainly overlap in our demographics, but the two events do have different audiences. There are many folks that support the Aids Walk that are not patrons of the Pride Festival, and vice versa. I am not saying that there won't be any single instance where an individual or a small business may not chose to support both events, where in the previous years they did, but I do not think this is something we can't overcome. And again, I would like to reiterate that our option came down to the Civic Center in June or Piedmont November 1st. We chose the best one for our future. And we will fight like hell to get back to Piedmont in June (if that is what our patrons want) for 2010.

from David:
I find it interesting that the Peachtree Road Race and the Dogwood Festival are able to operate at Piedmont Park on their normal dates, however Pride is forced to change. Hmmmm...2 events that cater predominately to straight people are allowed to proceed, but an event geared toward gay people is treated quite different. It would be interesting to know which event contributes more to the local economy - think, disposable income, out-of-town visitors. I'm wondering how many other people are seeing the inconsistency? There seems to be other factors going on that are not being brought to light - at least not yet. The "grass" excuse has worn thin. I live near the park and go there often, there is nothing wrong with the grass. I would love to ask the Powers-that-be "What's REALLY going on with this?" and actually get an honest answer. Too many things aren't making sense with this situation. What's the real reason they don't want Pride in the park during the normal time? Like I've stated previously, the "grass needing to grow" excuse has worn thin.

Deirdre's Response:
Great comment, because I think a lot of folks may feel the same way. Over the last six months, I have been in multiple meetings with various city representatives, and I can honestly tell you I do NOT believe there is any sort of conspiracy against the LGBTQ community by the city. I can't comment on other folks events since I do not have any inside information. (I would suggest you contact either their event manager directly or the Parks Department for details on the other festivals.) However I do feel comfortable stating there was certainly no malice intent that led us to our Oct 30 - Nov 1 weekend. The city WORKED with us to come up with a way to get us back to Piedmont after we came back and told them Central would not work.

To your point about what our event brings in... the city has estimated in the past that our event generates $30 million for the city. That is why Lisa Borders (President, City Council) stepped in to help. She clearly recognized our worth, knew the value to the city, and was instrumental in getting us back to Piedmont. I do not think we would have been back there without her support and I sincerely appreciate it.

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