Blackpool Council has been forced to bail out the town’s Pride Festival to the tune of £68,000 after this year’s event to celebrate the LGBT community was almost cancelled.
It emerged just a few days before the celebrations over the weekend of June 8 and 9 that ticket sales had not brought in enough cash to cover the costs.
The council agreed to step in amid fears cancellation would damage the event for future years.
It now hopes to work with organisers to ensure Pride, which includes a parade, can continue on a more sustainable financial footing.
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “A few days before the Pride Festival was due to take place we learnt that it was at risk of being cancelled.
“Once it became clear the event was in jeopardy, we agreed to make any outstanding payments for the staging of the festival and for the necessary security, site management and health and safety requirements to be put in place to enable it to go ahead.”
The council expects to recoup £38,000 from sponsorship, other income and repayment of some costs by the festival organisers.
It will seek to recover the outstanding £30,000 by helping to turn the festival into a profitable event in future years.
Performers at this year’s Pride held on the Tower Festival Headland included American singer CeCe Peniston, former Steps singer Claire Richards and Chesney Hawkes.
Coun Blackburn added: “I took part in the parade and despite it blowing a gale there were huge crowds lining the streets to celebrate diversity and the LGBT community.
“Stepping in the save this year’s festival was absolutely the right thing to do.
“Cancellation would inevitably have impacted on visitors who had bought festival tickets and also those who had booked accommodation for the weekend, so many people would have been left disappointed.
“Pride is an important celebration of diversity not just for visitors, but for our residents too.
“We will now work with the festival organisers in future years to help them to create a sustainable event that is capable of returning a profit.”
The revelation comes less than a week after it was revealed August’s Livewire Festival has been cancelled meaning it has gone ahead for only one of the three years agreed in a deal with Blackpool Council back in 2017.
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said two festivals in Blackpool had now failed financially – in sharp contrast to the successful Lytham Festival.
He said: “Pride is an important celebration for the town so we need to see if it still continues to be viable.
“However this council can ill afford to continue to financially support events that appear to be dwindling in appeal merely because they want to be seen to offering a full calendar of entertainment in the town.
“This August’s Livewire Festival has been cancelled for the second year running due to reported ‘investment’ problems.
“We really need to start looking at the success of Lytham Festival which celebrated its 10th year with an amazing line-up which attracted more than 750,000 fans.
“Blackpool is supposed to be the entertainment capital of the UK but at the moment we can’t seem to be able to organise an egg and spoon race.
“It’s time we got some real promotional skills in place before end of the pier Karaoke becomes our main attraction.”