Brighton & Hove Pride has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of ongoing uncertainty around coronavirus.
The UK’s biggest pride festival had been planned for August 7 and 8, but organisers said they ‘cannot risk the health and safety’ of visitors and staff.
In addition, they said the situation in summer remained hard to predict, with the possibility of a new vaccine-resistant variant emerging meaning that there might be another lockdown – while decisions on spending needed to be made now, rather than later on.
Organisers said: ‘We are heartbroken to have to announce the cancellation of Brighton & Hove Pride’s Community Parade, Pride Village Party and Pride Festival on Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th August 2021.
‘We know the need for community has never been stronger and Brighton & Hove Pride is one of Europe’s biggest Pride Festivals attracting thousands of people from across the UK to attend multiple events across the city including the Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade.
‘Delivering Pride requires an all year-round planning cycle working closely with our partner agencies and, while the vaccine rollout continues to be successful, the many uncertainties that need to be resolved to safely deliver mass gatherings and the complexities of organising Pride in our City are impossible to achieve in the time we have, so based on the best information available to us at this time we are heartbroken to have to cancel for a second year. We cannot risk the health and safety of Pride visitors, residents and the hundreds of staff and volunteers that help deliver Pride.’
Paul Kemp, Director of Brighton Pride said: ‘We are devastated at having to make this decision for a second year and recognise the huge impact on local businesses, charities and community groups who rely on the fundraising potential of the Pride weekend.
‘Pride attracts tens of thousands of people to our city for the LGBTQ+ community parade which is the heart of the Pride celebrations, where social distancing clearly can’t be facilitated safely. Our planning has also identified significant supply chain challenges including infrastructure, security and staffing making it impossible to deliver a safe event with any certainty.
‘Community fundraising has always been our main objective for Pride, but without the safety net of viable COVID cancellation insurance, we cannot jeopardise our ability to deliver a sustainable fundraising Pride in future years.
‘I’d like to thank all of our contractors, suppliers and partner agencies who have tried their upmost to help us move forward with planning, and to everyone who has purchased a ticket for their understanding and support, we can’t wait to bring Pride back in 2022 better than ever.’
Nick Hibberd, the city council’s executive director for Economy, Environment & Culture, said: ‘We’re very sorry that the in-person Pride events need to be cancelled again this year. They are very important community events in our city’s cultural calendar promoting LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion and will be much missed.
‘We’ve been in regular discussion with Pride through the city’s multi-agency safety advisory group and, even with restrictions starting to ease, it’s clear managing large events safely remains a huge challenge.
‘Keeping everyone safe and Covid rates low remains our priority and, with that in mind, we fully support the decision.
‘We will continue working with Pride to support the smaller events arranged this year and help manage a safe city over the traditional Pride weekend at the beginning of August.
‘We look forward to working together next year to make sure our city’s full Pride celebrations can return better than ever.’
Chris Gull, Chair of The Brighton Rainbow Fund, said: ‘We were sorry to hear that Brighton Pride have had to make the difficult decision to cancel plans to deliver a full-on physical event again this year. We totally understand and support that decision..
‘For several years before the current organisers took over, Brighton Pride had failed to raise any funds for our local LGBTQ+ projects. Under the current organisers’ tenure almost £1 million has been raised for local good causes, the vast majority of which The Brighton Rainbow Fund has distributed as grants to those projects.
‘Without the security of a government backed COVID insurance scheme (as offered in other countries), many festivals across the UK are reaching the same conclusions that Brighton Pride have, in short that there are still too many unknowns to be able to predict the situation in late Summer. Decisions and spending commitments have to be made now. Nobody can be certain, for instance, that a variant that is resistant to the current vaccines won´t emerge and that a further lockdown won´t result.
‘The sensible and responsible decision has been made. The long term fundraising for our local LGBTQ+ projects is best served by ensuring that the successful fundraising model that has been created is sustainable over many years to come. The risk of, to be blunt, the organisation collapsing due to COVID delivering another twist is not worth taking.
‘We look forward to hearing about what events Brighton Pride will be organising, and know that fundraising for our local LGBTQ+ communities, along with the safety of attendees remains the core aim.’
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