There’s a lot to celebrate this Pride season. Pride organizers are nearly halfway through an ambitious five-year strategic plan they hope will create a more active, diverse, and fiscally stronger Pride organization.
Goals include growing Pride attendance some 25% by 2020, bumping up Pride funds that are reinvested into the community, and building more and stronger partnerships with the exploding LGBTQ community of color.
It comes as the group grapples to keep pace with changing demographics and challenges to the relevance of Pride in a society where LGBTQ men and women have more rights than ever.
Group goals are spelled out in the Atlanta Pride Strategic Plan, an eight-page roadmap detailing key performance indicators and timelines for success. Available online at the Atlanta Pride website, the document focuses on five strategic impact metrics:
• Number of Festival attendees annually
• Number of annual attendees at Pride-sponsored year-round programs and events
• Number of formal participation with LGBTQ partner organizations
• Number of formal participation with non-LGBTQ partners in social change events
• Number of partnerships with organizations that primarily serve communities of color
An Organization At A Crossroads
The Atlanta Pride Committee may be known for organizing one of the city’s most entertaining LGBTQ-centric events of the year, but the organization has a long history of broader commitment to raising community visibility and acceptance one affirming event at a time.
It was June 1970 when a group of Atlantans gathered in Piedmont Park to hand out leaflets about the treatment of gays and lesbians in the city. That simple action would evolve into a march in June 1971 and eventually a Pride gathering. The effort lead to the Atlanta Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee in 1991 — the name was changed to Atlanta Pride Committee in 1995. Originally centered on the annual Atlanta Pride Festival, APC has gradually expanded its focus to include June events commemorating the Stonewall uprising, as well as year-round programming to advance unity, visibility, and equality among persons with widely diverse gender and sexual identities.
The group includes some 40+ dues-paying members who volunteer in a variety of event-specific committees year-round. The result of their efforts is one of the largest Pride events in the nation.
But like other Pride organizations in the country, APC is facing changes, both good and bad. While a stabilizing economy means many sponsors are coming back to the event, leaders say rising numbers of LGBTQ baby boomers mean shifting community needs.
At the same time, they point to legal advances as a double-edge sword — increasing acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ men and women will challenge the viability of traditional Pride organizations.
The strategic plan reflects responses to those challenges and more, spelling out steps for improving community reinvestment, broadening participation, and better serving niche communities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
One goal is to become more of an integral part of Atlanta’s LGBTQ equality movement. To do that, leaders are looking to beef up formal relationships with other LGBTQ community groups, especially groups of color. They also hope to increase the percentage of annual revenue poured into the Pride Community Reinvestment Fund, from 3% to 5% by the end of 2020.
Leaders hope to more than double the number of LGBTQ organizations listed in the Atlanta Pride Annual Report Community Partners List. That means increasing the amount from 29 in 2014 to 60 by late 2020 in order to ensure that APC’s focus remains on the LGBTQ community. They also hope to close out 2020 with more formal partnerships with self-identified LGBTQ-people of color organizations, a step they believe will help them better support communities APC has not traditionally had strong ties with.
Perhaps most ambitious is their goal to create social change by improving Pride attendance by 5% annually from 2016 to 2020. Other goals include boosting annual revenue from $798,000 in 2015 to $1 million by late 2020; building $500,000 reserve fund; and increasing membership to 150.