For those who have an opinion about the city’s gay pride festivities, the West Hollywood City Council will take up the topic of Christopher Street West, the group which produces the annual pride parade and festival, at its Oct. 21 meeting.
Councilmembers John D’Amico and John Duran say they have been meeting as an ad hoc committee with CSW President Rodney Scott for the past 20 months about ways to improve the pride event.
However, in July, when questioned over whether that committee ever met with CSW board members, Scott was vague. “I don’t believe it was a direct action (of the Council),” he said. “We work with all the council members.” Neither Duran or D’Amico returned requests for comments regarding the subcommittee.
Now, they say they’re ready to present some of their ideas and get input from the public.
“If 100 people came (to the council meeting), I think that it would be a very exciting and important discussion,” D’Amico said. “We’re trying to help CSW vision a long-term future.”
D’Amico said the council discussion will include the grand marshal, entertainment and how West Hollywood Park is used for the festival.
“We’re looking to do this in an incremental way,” D’Amico said. “We’re interested in incremental changes that will reflect what the community wants. CSW in engaged and interested in working on changes.”
Additionally, the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board is considering a town-hall forum about CSW on Oct. 30, according to D’Amico.
The pride parade and festival has long been criticized by some as being “tired,” too commercialized and irrelevant to the gay community. D’Amico first called upon CSW to make improvements at a December 2011 council meeting, including lowering admission cost and reinstating a political element to the event.
“The politics have drained out in favor of commerce,” D’Amico said then.
In July, several CSW board members told WEHOville the group was looking at moving the event out of West Hollywood. However, Scott issued a statement saying that was not true.
The board members cited disputes with the city over costs and fees such as street cleaning after the parade, use of the park and street closures. Additionally, they said the West Hollywood business community doesn’t do enough to support the event, which, according to a 2008 study, brings more than $16 million in revenue to West Hollywood.
Festival admission revenue has declined by 4 percent between 2009 and 2011, suggesting a drop off in attendance. Actual cash generated by Pride for CSW has declined 13 percent — from $1.4 million in 2007 to $1.2 million in 2011 — over that period, although it grew modestly from 2010 to 2011.