ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Utah Pride Center makes changes to reinvigorate festival after tumult of 2023

May 30, 2024, 6:00 AM

A participant walks in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on June 4, 2023. Utah Pride Center r...

A participant walks in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on June 4, 2023. Utah Pride Center reduced entry fees and reached out to other LGBTQ advocacy groups to bolster interest in this year's Pride festival, scheduled for this weekend. (Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

(Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Expect a lower entry fee to the Utah Pride Festival this weekend as officials with the LGBTQ advocacy group aim to draw a larger crowd and reinvigorate the event.

After a period of uncertainty brought on by money issues, Utah Pride Center officials have scaled back the budget of the premier Pride event in the state and lowered ticket prices. General admission is $20 per day of the festival, down from $30 last year, and there was also an “early bird” price of $15 for those who bought tickets early.

“We want to make sure we’re as accessible as possible,” said Chad Call, the center’s executive director. “A $30 price tag is a pretty steep price if you’re a family of four. I’d like to see an even more accessible price in the future.”

Around 56,000 people attended the two days of the festival in 2022, falling to around 25,000 last year, Call said. He’s hoping for attendance of around 50,000 for this year’s festival, set for Saturday and Sunday and to be held in Washington Square Park surrounding the Salt Lake City-County Building in downtown Salt Lake City.

In the name of fostering unity, Utah Pride officials are also making a conscious and concerted effort to reach out to other Utah LGBTQ advocacy groups for this year’s installment.

For the first time, other Pride organizations can install booths at no cost at the festival in a section dubbed Rainbow Alley. “As Utah’s premier Pride organization, we really are tasked with serving the state as a whole,” Call said.

How much will it cost? 

Utah Pride Center finances came under intense scrutiny last year after the majority of the organization’s staffers were laid off due to a spike in spending for the 2023 festival that left the organization mired in debt.

The sale this year of the organization’s old location covered the debt. Call said the center, while now a much smaller organization, has since achieved a measure of stability. Call took over as leader of the Utah Pride Center following the departure last March of Ryan Newcomb, who held the post for around six months.

Still, details of the spending issues that led to last year’s layoffs have not been publicly disclosed as what Call called a “forensic audit” of the 2023 budget continues.

The 2022 installment of the festival cost just under $1 million, Call said, before spiking to a level that has not yet been publicly revealed.

This year’s scaled-back festival budget is based on the spending plan of 2022 and will cost just over $1 million.

Read the full story at KSL.com.

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Utah Pride Center makes changes to reinvigorate festival after tumult of 2023