Pride in Sheffield organisers warn they may have to charge for entry

Around 18,000 people attended last year's Pride in Sheffield festival, with some 1,200 taking part in the parade along Ecclesall Road
Around 18,000 people attended last year's Pride in Sheffield festival, with some 1,200 taking part in the parade along Ecclesall Road
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Pride in Sheffield's organisers say they face having to charge revellers for the first time, after launching an urgent appeal for funding.

An estimated 18,000 people attended what is the city's biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) celebration last summer, and volunteers hope to attract an even bigger turnout for what will be the 10th anniversary this year.

Pride organisers said Sainsbury's was the only business along Ecclesall Road to sponsor last year's event

Pride organisers said Sainsbury's was the only business along Ecclesall Road to sponsor last year's event

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But they are struggling to raise the £18,000 needed to stage the bash on Saturday, July 28, which traditionally begins with a huge parade along Ecclesall Road and culminates with a party featuring live music in Endcliffe Park.

They are determined to keep the festivities free, but have warned that will not be possible without the support of the community.

A crowdfunding appeal has been launched, and they have also pleaded for sponsorship from local businesses and backing from Sheffield Council.

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Darren Hopkinson, event manager and co-founder of Pride in Sheffield, said: "We want to keep this as a free event for the people of Sheffield but it's proving harder than ever to secure sponsorship and if we can't raise enough money we will have to start charging next year or maybe even this summer.

This year will be Pride in Sheffield's 10th anniversary

This year will be Pride in Sheffield's 10th anniversary

"The event brings a lot of money into the city. We have people coming from Leeds and Nottingham who stay in hotels here, and the pubs and restaurants along Ecclesall Road are always packed that evening.

"Given the money we generate for them, it's really disappointing that last year the only business on Ecclesall Road to sponsor us was Sainsbury's, and that we've had zero funding, involvement or support from the council."

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The council said it had provided grants for Pride in the past and despite the increasing financial squeeze still tries to give other help in kind like support from its events team.

As well as potentially charging for entry to the festival, Pride organisers say they are considering switching the route of the parade to Abbeydale Road for the first time, given the lack of funding from businesses on Ecclesall Road.

They have already lined up Britain's Got Talent star Kyle Tomlinson to sing at this year's event but say they need more funding to help secure other high quality acts, having been 'slated' over the standard of some of last year's performers.

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Organisers say they pay the council around £1,200 each year for the road closure, use of the park and other costs, and feel at least some of this expense could be waived.

Mr Hopkinson also called on those attendees who can afford it to contribute, pointing out that collections on the day raised a 'disappointing' £1,275 last year.

"Somebody recently asked me why we need Pride in Sheffield and I said it's because we're still so far behind the times," he said.

"One of our committee members was walking down Division Street last year holding his boyfriend's hand when he was spat upon.

"The fact we're still not at a point where someone feels safe and comfortable holding his boyfriend's hand in public shows how important it is we continue to come together once a year to celebrate diversity."

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said she was proud of the council's work with LGBT+ groups in the city and claimed it had supported Pride and numerous other events organised by those communities.

"We have directly funded Pride with grants up to 2014, as well as other LGBT organisations in the city and we offer other support in kind," she added.

"The council has had very deep financial cuts over the past eight years of austerity and our ability to fund events has been severely reduced but we do try and give other help in kind as well such as support from our events team.

"I am aware that the events team have worked closely with Pride and we are more than happy to support events and activities in the future."

* You can donate at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sheffield-pride.