SF Pride appears troubled
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee appears to be experiencing financial trouble.
A fundraising gala planned for December will likely only happen online, and the longtime main stage producer doesn't appear to be returning next year, among other problems.
In addition, the committee is spending $60,000 a month on administrative expenses even as "the economic slowdown continues to severely impact Pride's future finances," as board treasurer Belinda Ryan declared in a recent report.
In his report given to Pride's board at its Tuesday, August 3, meeting, Troy Coalman, associate director of development, said it wouldn't be "prudent" to host a major gala in December. He said that he'd already released the contract for the Metreon shopping and entertainment complex in order not to incur a cancellation fee.
"At this time we do not have the donor base and constituency following to attract guests paying $150.00 per person," Coalman stated in the report.
Instead, Coalman said that he plans to launch an online gala.
One likely factor in the decision was the apparent failure of Pride's "Forty and Fabulous" benefit in May.
Board President Mikayla Connell previously told the Bay Area Reporter that the event "brought in less than we hoped." Amy Andre, Pride's executive director, has not responded to questions about how much the event raised.
Asked to discuss his own report, Coalman referred questions to Andre, who did not respond. Neither she nor Connell attended last week's board meeting.
Another challenge for the Pride Committee involves longtime main stage producer Audrey Joseph.
Joseph, who had resigned as the festival's main stage producer after last year's event, returned this year after the Pride Committee apparently couldn't find anyone to replace her.
But it looks like Joseph won't be back for 2011.
Andre said in a Monday, August 2 e-mail, "Audrey has decided not to return to the main stage next year."
Asked if she was resigning, Joseph said in a Friday, August 6 e-mail, "I do not have to put in a resignation." She explained that she had a one-time contract that expired on June 30, "so anything going forward would have to be renegotiated and no one has approached me on anything as of yet."
Then, responding to follow-up questions, Joseph wrote that she did "not really" want to return as main stage producer, but she added, "Let me be clear – this is my Pride and I want to see it healthy and vibrant."
At Pride's board meeting last week, Joseph read a statement outlining some of her concerns. Among them, she said that board members should "actively participate in raising money for the event and to make decisions based on the health of the event and not whatever their personal agendas might be."
In addition to everything else that's happening with the Pride Committee, it appears there are at least a couple of staff openings.
As previously reported, Lindsey Jones, a former executive director who this year became the director of corporate sponsorship, is leaving that position.
In a Tuesday, August 10 e-mail, Jones wrote, "The plan all along has been for me to transition into sponsorship for one year. That one year started August 1, 2009 and is ending August 31, 2010." She added that Andre has initiated the search for a new sponsorship director.
Andre said in her August 2 e-mail that no one had yet been hired as director of external relations. She did not say this week whether people had been found for that position or Jones's job.
Connell, who was absent from at least the last two board meetings, previously told the B.A.R. that this year's parade and celebration were "pretty close to breaking even."
In her August 2 e-mail, Andre wrote that it was "still being determined" how much money the events had raised this year.
Ryan's report indicated a net income of negative $42,757.49 through July 31, but it wasn't clear if that would be made up for by sponsorship money that hadn't yet come in, or other funds.
Ryan's report also didn't appear to show what the grants to this year's community partners would be. Since 1997, Pride has granted over $1.6 million to beneficiary organizations.
In her report, Ryan said the Pride committee had "enough cash flow" to handle "normal administrative functions" such as rent, payroll, and other costs.
"Administrative expenses run at just over $60,000 per month," she wrote.
According to Ryan's report, as of July 31, the committee had a total of about $113,000 in checking and savings.
Her report shows that from October 2009 through July 2010, there were about $376,000 in payroll expenses. There were also approximately $127,000 for "contracted services" and about $143,000 for "contracted employees."
Andre's salary is $105,000.
Andre didn't respond to questions the paper e-mailed to her this week about salaries and other figures from Ryan's report. She's repeatedly declined to discuss staff compensation.
Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing and chief financial officer for the charity evaluator Charity Navigator, reviewed Ryan's report for the B.A.R.
However, in an e-mail, she wrote, "Unfortunately, we can't make any judgments about the [percent] this charity spends on overhead costs based on this report as it doesn't detail the expense categories. We can see all the various expenses, but have no way of knowing how to allocate things like salary, benefits and so on into programs, admin and fundraising."
Connell and Ryan didn't respond to interview requests for this story.