3 min

Balancing the books for Pride

Last year's last big debt was... toilets

WHERE'S THE MATCHING HAT? Russell Mathew holds the pursestrings. Credit: Mark Bognanovic

Homos won’t be paying for the surly cops at this year’s Pride parade.

“The city itself does not provide us with any money, but they are providing a lot of services,” says Pride treasurer Russell Mathew.

“We’re looking at police services, garbage pick-up, as well as the barricades around the site of the parade flow. All these services would have cost us up to $100,000.”

This year’s Pride budget is about $250,000.

The money comes from big corporations with megabucks sponsorships, and from tiny gay community groups that rent tables in the street fair for $250.

“What we’ve found in the past was that it was relatively cheap for national corporations to get involved. This year, we’ve adjusted the parade fee, so national corporations are now being charged $2,500 while community-based businesses are charged $1,000.”

But Mathew says megabucks may have now flatlined. “This is probably as high as we can get for this sort of event. There’s only so much advertising you can get for an event of Pride’s size.”

There’s always the return of the not-so-popular loonie drive, allowing each of the hundreds of thousands of partiers to give their spare change.

The money is easy to spend.

One big cash outflow goes to the TTC. Street cars will be blocked during the Sun, Jun 25 parade along Wellesley, Carlton and (for the first time, because the parade route’s been extended) Dundas.

Pride is writing a $4,000 cheque to the Toronto Transit Commission to keep a shuttle bus going along Dundas.

Then there’s the money that just keeps the huge Pride site itself going.

“Electricity is a big one. We’re looking at around $20,000 plus for the generators, wiring and other stuff.”

Other expenses include:

• stage and sound systems: $45,000

• toilets: $10,000.

• tents: $12,000

• tables and chairs: $8,000

• decorations such as balloons will cost a few thousand

• entertainers: $15,000

• media, primarily the Pride guide, will cost $20,000

• security, both personnel and equipment, cost a total of $15,000.

Most of the advertising is donated by community media.

“We do buy the odd ad here and there though,” says Mathew.

And of course, some money is spent in the hopes of making money.

Overboard, a water play area on Church St, will cost around $5,000 in equipment rentals. “We’re doing this as a fundraiser, so we’re hoping to break even on it.”

Looking back, Pride has always been in the red – and some folks don’t get paid.

“It’s usually the last invoice in the pile that needs to be paid.

“In last year’s case, it was the toilets.”

But in fact when all was counted up, Pride eventually came out in the black.

“Last year, we paid off all accumulated debt and even ended up with a surplus of $20,000.” Sponsorships leapt roughly 50 percent between 1998 and ’99.

The leftover cash pays the office rent.

“Unless it pours rain all weekend, we should have a significant surplus this year.”

Mathew says it’s important to have money in the bank, which auditors have recommended to be at $80,000.

“We don’t have anything like rain insurance, and one year, hopefully not this year, it will pour rain all weekend. We don’t want to have to rely on revenue from things like beer sales.”

Fraud has been at the forefront the last two parades. Volunteer Wayne Robinson was convicted of fraud.

Pride did not get its money back – estimated at $20,000. “The courts found that Robinson had a long history of fraud. They figured that he would just defraud another organization to pay off Pride and they did not want to keep the cycle going.”

Pride has tighter management now.

Other odd little expenses include:

• towing cars out of the commercial market they have on Wellesley St

• paying for membership to organizations such as Interpride

• office rent, telephone bills and supplies

• beer (bought at about 50 percent the regular cost)

• All volunteers are also invited to a wrap up party and get Pride T-shirts which run up a cost of $8,000. “It’s the perk for being a volunteer,” says Mathew.