WEHOville

LA Pride 2016: Where the Money Came From and Where It Went

Mon, Aug 22, 2016   By Staff    3 Comments

MoneyChristopher Street West (CSW), the organization that puts on the annual L.A. Pride parade and festival in West Hollywood, is known for not sharing with the public any financial information about the event. Tax forms, which are available to the public by law, have chronicled losses in many years.

A copy of a CSW financial document dated June 28, 2016 that recently was made available to WEHOville (although not by CSW)  shows the revenue and expenses that the organization budgeted for this year’s L.A. Pride compared with the actual money that CSW made and spent. That document, which CSW has not made public, shows a net loss of $395,917.60, the largest by far based on a comparison with losses revealed in tax filing over the last few years.

A copy of the document is available on the pages below. While it illustrates some of CSW’s spending practices, there remain questions the financial statement doesn’t answer:

— 3030 + 3033). Pride Ticket Revenue. How many people actually attended this year’s Pride festival? The revenue associated with online and at-the-gate ticket purchases suggests roughly 35,000 people attended (a figure that doesn’t include the likely small number of people who got free tickets or went to the Friday event for free).

— 4018) Construction OFC Buildout. CSW spent $30,731 to remodel a relatively small office in the Pacific Design Center after leaving a much (albeit not as attractive) larger office space on Santa Monica Boulevard. Did CSW’s board of directors authorize this expenditure by a non-profit organization? And given that it has no full time staff,  why would it lease such an office rather than a short-term shared-office rental?

— 4019) Expenses / Administration / Contract Labor Staff/Consult. CSW paid $30,132 to someone who apparently worked in administration of the organization. CSW repeatedly states that it has no employees, but apparently someone is being paid to do administrative work. Who is that person? And what work is he or she paid to do? The $2,294 (Line 9917) that CSW paid in payroll taxes through April 28 also suggests it has or had a paid employee.

— 6010) Advertising & Promo. CSW spent $104,896.50 on advertising and promo, a very large sum in a community where a magazine ad page can sell for $2,000 or less and a website ad can sell for $1,000 or less. Who were the recipients of this advertising and promotional spending, and how much was spent on each?

— 6040) Government Consulting. CSW budgeted $12,000, apparently for the services of Scott Schmidt, the election compaign manager for and former City Council deputy to Mayor Lauren Meister. As of the date of the financial report, Schmidt had been paid $5,000. City law bars former council deputies from lobbying the City Council, however it provides an odd exemption for non-profit organizations such as CSW. After his work with CSW became public, Schmidt ended it and maintains that his meeting with Meister and Councilmember John D’Amico was to discuss community meetings on Pride, not to lobby them.

— 7000) Festival Operations. CSW’s financial statement shows that it spent $1,036,990 on people, equipment and services directly tied to the “music festival” concept. That amounted to 42% of its total expenditures. By contrast, the financial statement shows spending of $26,595 on the Pride parade (1% of total spending). How does the percentage of expenses associated with musical performances compare to what was spent on that in past years?  Another question is how much was actually paid to CSW’s longtime festival producer Jeff Consoletti? While the document shows $80,000 (Line 7033) paid to the “festival & parade producer,” which is Consoletti’s role, it shows additional tens of thousands paid for services apparently provided by those working for Consoletti.

The CSW 2016 financial report dated June 28 is available on the pages below:

 

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3 Comments

  1. Don AzarsMon, Aug 22, 2016 at 7:42 am

    I may be naive but why aren’t many expenses donated? For example, advertising. IF companies aren’t supportive of “the cause” (ie LGBT issues) then what’s the point? Instead of exploiting they should be donating. As for the “music festival” concept, it seemed to be ill conceived and certainly poorly executed. It seems the CSW was struggling to maintain or stimulate interest in the parade/festival. The turmoil that has resulted causes everyone to address (once again) the purpose of the LGBT Parade and Festival. If it goes away, however, I see it as a further change in our “village” where developers and profiteers are replacing the social consciousness and LGBT major presence. We are being defined by the very people/methods/priorities that our city was founded to avoid. Call it progress or evolution but we need a better balance, direction and mission statement. I think it’s time for the CSW to dissolve and some other entity/people to grapple with the problem and decide the future of this event.

  2. Todd BiancoMon, Aug 22, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I think it’s important to focus on the expenses, but let’s, for a moment, look at the catastrophic deficit in revenue. Of a projected $2,954,070 of gross revenue, CSW’s actual revenue was $884,735 BELOW estimates. Ouch. Let’s look at just a few line items:

    Beverage sales – budget: $715,000, actual: $250,000 (a suspiciously even number).
    Festival online sales – budget: $1,300,000, actual: $698,282.
    Facility ticket fees (whatever those are) – budget $62,000, actual: zero.

    While some decline can be attributed to the terror shootings in Orlando, you’d expect that most of your online festival ticket sales would have happened before that news hit. If you miss that projection by nearly 50%, you know you’re doomed. Also the beverage sales are barely one third of projections. That also can’t be attributed solely to people staying away because of terrorism fears. Maybe the prices were too high? Maybe it’s because the whole format wasn’t appealing to attendees or maybe it was because the format wasn’t approved by more than just the board of CSW (community outreach anyone?).

    With an organization this wounded, I repeat my call for CSW to close shop, declare bankruptcy and let some other organization step into the void. Who would want to pick up the pieces after such a disaster?

  3. John Fitzgerald KeitelMon, Aug 22, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Dear WEHOville,

    That’s a lot of money for advertising, especially considering that, as a long time resident who likes to stay current, I had absolutely no idea that the format of Pride changed this year to a music festival Perhaps because the event has become so stale over the past decade, I’ve become accustomed to tuning out all things Pride. But had I known about the change (as well as a free Friday night?!), I might have actually attended. Surely CSW spent some of that advertising largess here on WEHOville. So how did I miss it?

    As for the optics of Steve Schmidt’s involvement with the organization so soon after leaving the employment of Mayor Meister, not good! Anyone who knows anything about Weho politics knows the dynamics in play here, especially if you throw Councilman D’Amico into the mix. Come on, guys and gal, I like you, I supported you, but really?! Are you not paying attention to what’s been going on in our national discourse? Rigged system! It’s the rare thing upon which partisans on both sides can agree. Whether you are or you aren’t, it looks like you’re in cahoots!

    Personally, I don’t think any distinction should be made between non and for profit organizations when it come to government and lobbying (or whatever it is you call it). Money is money, whether it’s being doled out in grants or contributing to a bottom line. Someone gets to decide who gets those potential grants, and this makes it look like government is directly involved in picking the winners and losers, which is just this side of corrupt. Evidently, this hasn’t been an issue for sometime in West Hollywood since CSW hasn’t been able to generate the profits necessary to provide any grants. Then again, there are all those unmarked budget line items described in the article.

    John Fitzgerald Keitel

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