CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Pride (formerly called Pride Charlotte) has spread its wings and is now operating as an independent organization, it was announced earlier this year.
Under the auspices of The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte for six years, it saw tremendous growth. However, as a project of a center and not as a self-governed entity, there were limits. With the new organization steering its ship, it hopes to further the visibility and awareness of the Queen City’s LGBT community.
The Executive Committee of Charlotte Pride, Inc., a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of North Carolina and led by several volunteers responsible for past Pride festivities held under the auspices of the Center since 2006, will endeavor to be supportive of a wide range of LGBT community organizations.
The center had taken on the mantle of the Pride celebration when its former steering committee disbanded. It was formed as a response to the turbulence of the 2005 event, challenged by an “overwhelming presence of local anti-LGBT protesters,” Charlotte Pride said. The Pride event grew with a record-breaking attendance of 45,000 in August 2012 in the Uptown Charlotte venue. Prior to that, the event was held in more private settings, like Bank of America-owned Gateway Village in Third Ward and the N.C. Music Factory.
“Pride Charlotte has reached the point where the current Pride committee is ready to be independent,” Scott Coleman, chair of the Board of Trustees for the LGBT Community Center, said in a release. “In order for the annual Pride event to continue its growth momentum, and be taken to the next level, it makes a lot of sense for it to be an independent organization focused on delivering a consistently amazing annual festival. The LGBT Community Center Board wishes the Pride event well, and is excited to see what the new organization, led by members of the community that have helped to deliver the successes of past Pride events, will present in 2013 and beyond. The Charlotte LGBT community is truly fortunate to have such a dedicated group of Pride volunteers willing to assume such an undertaking each and every year.”
Prior to the center’s handling of Pride celebrations, they were held throughout the area as smaller events dating back to the 1970s. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Bryant Park and Marshall Park served as more visible locations, while The Scorpio and The VanLandingham Estate saw more private ones.
The 2013 festivities have been slated for August 24-25 in Uptown Charlotte. It will be the culmination of a week-long slate of events highlighting the social, cultural, ethnic, artistic and political diversity of the Charlotte-Metro area’s LGBT communities.
Charlotte Pride Co-Director Richard Grimstad shared, “We are building upon our astounding successes after our phenomenal year of public growth and recognition at our two-day festival last year.…There can be no doubt that our community is making visible progress and change. Our festival is the largest LGBT Pride event between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. We are proud to call Charlotte home and proud the city has embraced its LGBT community with such fervor and acceptance.”
After raising nearly $100,000 for the center, Charlotte Pride organizers are excited to extend their support to a wider array of community organizations. A new community grants program to assist local organizations’ programming and projects will be funded by proceeds from each year’s festival. Details for the new grants program will be made available later this year.
On March 7, the organization announced its 30-day fundraising challenge. They are asking individuals and small businesses to join in. They want to raise $5,500 for a variety of needs. Those are: initial outreach and marketing materials, such as website and other technology fees and printing of flyers, postcards and other marketing materials; funding of initial deposits necessary for securing public safety, entertainer, tent and table rental, marketing and other operational contracts; assistance in booking top-tier talent and entertainment at this year’s event; and necessary deposit fees for securing festival logistical items like staging, sound and generators.
More information on sponsorship and vendor opportunities are available online at charlottepride.org.
— from staff reports and news releases
[Ed. Note: This publication’s editor serves as a volunteer member of Charlotte Pride’s board.]