Manchester Pride scraps star-studded Pride Live music festival for 2022

The star-studded ticketed event has been retired as Manchester Pride attempts to reclaim its activist roots.


Words: Will Stroude; Image: LANDMARK MEDIA / Alamy Stock Photo

Manchester Pride has scrapped its MCR Pride Live musical festival for 2022 as part of a wider shift back towards grassroots LGBTQ activism.

MCR Pride Live - a ticketed event which has been headlined by stars including Ariana Grande and Cheryl Cole in recent years - will not take place this year after a six-month consultation by Manchester Pride found that members of the LGBTQ community believed the charity's grant-giving was no longer reflecting the causes that mattered to them most.

Last year, Manchester Pride came under fire after it emerged it was cutting grants to local LGBTQ charities despite forking our reported six-figure sums on securing performances by some of the world's biggest pop acts.

Other Manchester Pride events including the Gay Village Party, The Candlelit Vigil, the Gay Village Party, Superbia Weekend, Youth Pride MCR, Family Pride MCR and Human Rights Forum will still go ahead this August bank holiday weekend.

Organisers have also announced that a fixed amount or percentage of each ticket purchased to Pride events will go directly to the community fund. 

In its newly-released report, Manchester Pride states: "The findings show that some people feel that MCR Pride Live attracts a cisgender heterosexual audience as well as LGBTQ+ audience, and is aimed at younger people. Therefore, it is deemed ‘exclusive’ rather than ‘inclusive’.

It adds: "Respondents reported concerns around safety at the Manchester Pride Festival. This is in relation to overcrowding, security staff not being experienced with issues facing LGBTQ+ communities and the increase in cisgender heterosexual attendees resulting in hate crime fears."

Paul Wheeler, Chair of Manchester Pride’s board of Trustees, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to the thousands of individuals who had their say on the future direction of the Charity. Manchester Pride should be something everyone feels proud of and can see a little bit of themselves reflected back in.

“We acknowledge we got some things wrong last year and we’re sorry for the upset and frustration this caused. It is important that Manchester Pride reflects what Manchester’s LGBTQ+ communities tell us they want and this review has shown how we can do better.

“The communities have been clear in saying their must-have elements over the weekend specifically include The Parade, The Candlelit Vigil and the Gay Village Party, whereas MCR Pride Live was seen as less important to furthering our cause.

“First and foremost, we’re a campaigning charity fighting for equality and opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals across Greater Manchester, and the response from across our communities corroborates that position. We want more input into the charity’s operation, with a greater focus on campaigning, lobbying and education, whilst seeing fewer celebrity headline acts at MCR Pride Live. 

“That’s why we’re going back to our roots, our Pride celebration is about protest. As a result, we’ve listened to the communities’ comments, and will address their recommendations to refocus efforts back towards activism.

“Furthermore, we will commit a fixed amount or percentage of each ticket purchase to Pride events directly to the community fund and provide clarity on where the remainder of the amounts generated from ticket sales is attributed.” 

Paul continued: “The organisation has sought to address big questions and concerns, such as the role of Pride as a protest movement as opposed to a pop concert, how Pride can be more accessible, inclusive and safer, and how we go about giving grants. 

“We’ve also tried to address how we can be more transparent and connected as an organisation to Greater Manchester’s LGBTQ+ communities, surrounding the themes of communities, activism, giving and transparency.

“Ensuring the charity now reflects the needs of our communities is now our focus. We don’t see this review as the end of the conversation, rather it’s the start. This report marks the beginning of more co-creation, more transparency and more listening.” 

Manchester Pride takes place from 27-30 August 2022.