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Pride Fest organizer faces financial struggle, major changes 

Pride and payments

Last week, Colorado Springs Pride moved into new headquarters at 410 S. Tejon St. The LGBT nonprofit has a new board, and over the past few years has switched from relying on grants to private donations and sales of events and ads. It's introduced new programs and eliminated old ones, and now is preparing to add programs once again.

The organization, which has an annual budget of about $117,000, is also in a financial crunch.

The city confirms that it has not received any payments from Pride for city services at last year's Pride Fest, the organization's signature event. It has granted extensions on the $6,401.14 debt and agreed to let Pride make four monthly payments, ending in April. The city has also specified that prior to getting a special event permit for 2014, Pride must pay 50 percent of the estimated costs for services.

Pride already missed its January payment, but the city notes that Pride's board president, Jack Danielsen, has promised to catch up.

Danielsen, who owns Dimensions Spa, told the Indy last week that he was planning to write the first check soon.

"This is something we do have under control, and it's not something we didn't have under control," he says.

Asked if the organization had cash on hand to pay the full debt and the needed down payment, he says Pride will have to rely on monthly revenues.

There are other challenges, Danielsen adds. The 2014 Pride Fest recently lost its prime sponsor because of economic woes, and while other avenues are being pursued, Danielsen says he'd love to see more donations.

Pride's financial issues started with the economic downturn of 2009, when it lost many of the grants it had come to rely on. In 2012, the Gill Foundation stopped funding LGBT centers across the state, as part of a reorganization.

Pride has basically been working to recover since then. It moved its office from its longtime location at 2508 E. Bijou St., to a temporary downtown location — a smaller space, which meant dropping some of the group meetings and programs that Pride had long hosted.

Danielsen points out that it also has added some offerings, including an Internet radio show that focuses on LGBT-specific relationship issues and additional events. The group's new South Tejon space, he adds, should allow for more.

Chris Robertson, regional director of the Southern Colorado AIDS Project and a former Pride board member, says he knows some community members have resented the changes at Pride in recent years. But he says he believes the organization has done its best to stay relevant.

As for its most high-profile event, in 2013 Pride Fest moved from Acacia Park to America the Beautiful Park, and executive director Charles Irwin says the change brought 10,000 more people to the event than previous years, swelling it to 35,000. The $40,000 festival, which traditionally cost more than it made, netted about $15,000, he says.

stanley@csindy.com

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