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Amsterdam Gets The Pride It Deserves

by Lucien Spee in Columns & Opinions , 02 juni 2017


This month, I can only share my worries about the future, as the financial feasibility of the Amsterdam Pride in its present form is under pressure. If Amsterdam wants to celebrate a Pride in 2018, it will be necessary to take a look at how the city can embrace the festival in a different way.

Every year around this time, it is an exciting period to see which venues and businesses get their funding sorted. Which gay businesses have survived the winter, and which still have enough reserves to take a financial risk. So far, the situation was always resolved in the end, or our foundation (AGP) managed to perform last minute rescue operations with sponsor funds.

But due to the fact that more stringent safety requirements and implementation conditions are imposed each year, and at the same time the number of parties involved to bear the costs has decreased significantly, we have now come to the conclusion that we cannot meet even stricter requirements. In that case, there simply will not be enough money left to organize a festival.

Everyone agrees that Pride is part of the city of Amsterdam just as King’s Day is, and that the whole city benefits from the influx of visitors. In addition, Pride is also the event that keeps Amsterdam on the map internationally for its reputation as a city of freedom. That is not only good for the remaining gay businesses, but especially for the Amsterdam business climate for creative companies. Recent German research shows that millennials even appoint Amsterdam as the best city to live in and designate it - with San Francisco - as the most GLBT-friendly city in the world.

Despite the urban importance of the Pride, in the licensing process the Pride is considered to be a purely commercial event and therefore faces strict security and crowd management requirement and large cleaning costs. With the motto: “the polluter pays” and “it’s your party,” most of the costs are to be paid by the organization.

The fact that we use cups with a refundable deposit at our festival, and that supermarkets and snack bars are the actual polluters, does not change anything. Nor does the fact that we cannot charge an entry fee as it is a public event. Unfortunately, people often think that the participating gay businesses are making a fortune and can easily carry the financial burden. But these times are now behind us. And a rainy year, such as 2010, can get businesses in serious financial problems. It is also not true that companies are fighting for a spot to sponsor the Pride.

In two weeks we have to submit the final license application, even though it is still uncertain whether some venues and locations will or can participate. As if it’s not complicated and costly enough, this year we are also faced with the impact of campaigning NIMBYs, who want to ban Pride Amsterdam from the city center. Of course they state that the Pride is “really very important” and “truly belongs to Amsterdam,” but just not in their backyard. Why not sail over the Kostverlorenkade and celebrate at the Olympic Stadium? Fortunately, our Mayor immediately made it clear that he is “not even considering” moving the Pride, and that the festival should take place in the center.

However, these NIMBYs did achieve that we are again faced with stricter requirements and, in addition, get fewer hours to recover investment costs. An example: For the first time in twenty-two years, we need to draw up acoustic reports, in order to demonstrate that we can meet the new decibel norm. Apart from the fact that conducting such acoustic studies costs a lot of money, the execution of the resulting recommendations will also not be free.

A recently filed motion of D66 to give Pride Amsterdam a special status and thereby guaranteeing its future, unfortunately did not get a majority in the City Council. Perhaps the tenor of the motion was not quite right to get enough support, but something really has to change in the way Amsterdam embraces its pride and how it should be financed.


Lucien Spee is director of the
Foundation Amsterdam Gay Pride

See www.pride.amsterdam



 







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