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Philly bills Equality Forum $17K for city services

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Organizers of Pennsylvania’s Equality Forum got a firsthand look this month at exactly how the recession is hurting gay groups … in the form of a bill … for $17,000… from the City of Philadelphia.

Equality Forum is one of the counrty’s largest gay events, including lectures, workshops, parties and rallies – and organizers say it can bring as many as 75-thousand people to Philadelphia. In February, organizers learned they were losing a giant chunk of their funding … a 115-thousand dollar contribution from the city, because of budget cuts.

But the city wasn’t done. Executive Director Malcolm Lazin says the city handed him a bill for city services – just days before the event kicked off earlier this month – and told him he had to pay the seventeen thousand dollars – in advance.

Lazin: “We’ve never been charged for city services in the past, and so to be told shortly before the event that we were going to be charged for those services obviously came as a shock.”

Philadelphia is hardly the only city struggling with its budget. And Equality Forum is a big enough organization that it was able to make ends meet. But Lazin says many smaller events might not be able to sustain these types of charges.

Lazin: “For example, a traditional pride event with a parade, is already tapping into the community in order to raise the funds necessary for the parade. So if they’ve got to now, in a tough economy, raise additional funds? That’s a pretty Herculean climb.”

Lazin says next year, they may have to consider moving the Equality Forum off of city property–and start charging admission.

–Aaron McQuade


Written by OutQ News staff

May 21, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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