Pink Saturday producer named

  • by Seth Hemmelgarn
  • Wednesday April 1, 2015
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Eliote Durham. Photo: Portraits to the People<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
Eliote Durham. Photo: Portraits to the People

Organizers of this year's Pink Saturday event have announced that a producer who's been involved with San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and Bay to Breakers race will work with San Francisco's LGBT Community Center to put on the gay street party.

Eliote Durham will serve as executive producer of the party, which is less than three months away.

E. Cee Productions, Durham's company, has for years worked with large civic and community gatherings "because we enjoy producing events that bring the community together, create a positive environment to enjoy San Francisco ... and build long lasting memories. Pink Saturday is a great event to join," Durham said in response to emailed questions Tuesday.

Rebecca Rolfe, the community center's executive director, said Durham and her production company "were selected based on their extensive experience in producing large outdoor events, and their ability to integrate strong cultural programming with experience in public safety and event logistics."

This year's Pink Saturday party in the Castro district is set to take place June 27.

ECP has been doing large outdoor events since 2004. Durham has been the director of operations for Hardly Strictly, the free bluegrass festival that brings thousands of people to Golden Gate Park every fall. She's also served on the production teams of events including Bay to Breakers, the annual footrace where people often dress in costumes, and the Now and Zen music festival.

Durham's selection is a significant step in preparations for this year's Pink Saturday.

Following years of concern about violence, in February the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence decided to end their oversight of the street party, which the group had managed for nearly two decades.

The Sisters' announcement threw into doubt the future of the festival, which draws thousands of people to the Castro the night before the city's LGBT Pride parade.

In March, though, gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose District 8 includes the Castro, announced that the community center had agreed to oversee the event, with help from the city. The center said it would also bring on an event producer on a contract basis to help plan for the party.

In a joint response to emailed questions, Durham and Rolfe said they don't yet have information on what changes there will be to the event, including whether there will be music stages and more security.

"The event will start and end earlier, but the exact times have not yet been confirmed," they said.

Asked about the biggest challenge Durham sees for this year, they said, "We are focused on creating an event that unites the LGBT and allied communities in a safe and fun celebration of LGBT culture and Pride."

Durham, who will be a key planner for one of the largest outdoor gay celebrations in the country, wouldn't say what her age or sexual orientation is.

"I am the president of ECP and have a great team that works with me," she said.  "E. Cee Productions is a woman-owned small business and we are based in the Richmond district of San Francisco. Beyond that we prefer to focus on our experience as opposed to our personal lives."

Rolfe said Durham's "age and sexual orientation are not relevant to her ability to produce the event."

The two said Durham will have plenty of help.

"Eliote is putting together a team of people who will be working with her on this event," they said. "In addition, the center is asking community stakeholders to work with us in an advisory capacity. Our planning team includes strong representation from people who have deep experience with this and other large public events, as well as stakeholders from the Castro."

Billy Picture, who said he's "queer as a three dollar bill," has experience producing the Castro Street Fair and will be on the Pink Saturday production team.

Durham said she and others from her production company have previously attended Pink Saturday.



Besides changes to Pink Saturday and other details, there are also other aspects of this year's party that haven't been determined.

City Hall has agreed to foot the bill for the event, but the budget hasn't been completed. The 2014 festival cost the Sisters $80,000, though Rolfe has said the center expects this year's celebration will cost more to produce.

Funding sources "will include sponsorships, gate donations, and support from the city," she said in her email.

Information on how much Durham will be paid for her work wasn't available. The contract hasn't been finalized.

Organizers spoke with "four producers and/or production teams" before deciding on Durham, Rolfe said.

It is not clear whether the Sisters, which own the Pink Saturday name, will allow it to be used this year.

"We are in conversation with the Sisters, but have not yet been able to meet with the full order," Durham and Rolfe said.

Many feel that despite the Sisters withdrawing from the party, some kind of event had to be organized, complete with security.

Not only does the annual Dyke March, held early in the evening of Pink Saturday, lead up to 10,000 people into the Castro, but the Pride-sponsored celebration that day in the Civic Center also wraps up around 6 p.m., and many of the attendees then head for the city's gayborhood.

City officials are also bracing for a larger-than-normal turnout for Pride weekend this year due to the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule sometime in June on whether to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.