Utah Pride Center won’t be closing, leaders say, backtracking on earlier statement

Center officials said they “regrettably” didn’t communicate well in their Aug. 22 public statement.

(Alex Gallivan | Special to the Tribune) The Utah Pride Center celebrated their Grand Opening at their new location at 1380 S. Main St. on Saturday, May 19, 2018. The Utah Pride Center issued a new statement, a week after deleting one that hinted at its closure.

The Utah Pride Center “is not closing,” two of its leaders vowed in a statement posted Wednesday night on social media — a more positive message than one posted and deleted eight days earlier that suggested the possibility of the LGBTQ+ nonprofit’s demise.

The earlier statement, sent in a newsletter to center supporters Aug. 22 and briefly posted on its Instagram account, characterized the nonprofit’s financial situation as one in “massive turmoil” and that “the Center might close, revive, or reset.”

That statement was issued after QSaltLake magazine’s Michael Aaron reported that more than a third of the center’s staff was laid off.

Wednesday’s statement — signed by Tanya Hawkins, the center’s CEO and executive director, and Jess Couser, identified as the chair of the center’s board of directors — reads: “There is no question that the Utah Pride center is currently facing financial struggles.”

It then went on to note that June’s Utah Pride Festival was “successful” in unifying the community, but “did not generate the revenue we had hoped for.”

The Tribune reported earlier this year that the Utah Pride Festival drew criticism from local artisans and makers for its booth prices, and that the cost of event security topped $300,000 — a five-fold increase over the year before.

Because of the revenue shortfall and “uncertainty,” the new statement said, center leaders “had to rethink our staffing and programming models.” Leaders apologized that “regrettably, we did not clearly or effectively communicate this in our most recent public statement.”

The new statement says the center’s programming will be paused during September for “an organizational reset.” But it also states clearly, “The Utah Pride Center is not closing.”

The statement ends with a request for donations, from anyone who would like to “help us regain a firmer financial footing.”

Representatives from the Utah Pride Center did not respond Wednesday night for comment about the new statement.

A job listing for a new executive director, posted in the last week on the job-searching platform Indeed.com, lists the annual salary between $77,000 and $150,000. As of Wednesday night, this listing was not posted on the Utah Pride Center’s website for open employment opportunities.

Wednesday’s statement asks for input and suggestions to be sent to executivedirector@utahpridecenter.org. Some community members put their criticisms In the Instagram comments Wednesday night.

According to the most recent 990 form filed, for the 12 months ending September 30, 2021, the Utah Pride Center reported revenues of $2,116,293 and expenses of $1,845,793 — a net gain of $270,500.

Nearly 87% of those revenues, $1,839,120, were from contributions and grants. Most of the rest came from program services — including Utah Pride Festival admissions and fees for mental health counseling.

Several LGBTQ+ businesses and organizations have offered their spaces for community access, including Club Verse, The Legendarium and Sugarhouse Coffee. The Tribune complied a list of mental health resources in June. Under the Umbrella bookstore has also offered its bright gallery and cozy meeting room space for use.

“Accessibility is a priority, so booking for small groups and individuals starts at a $5 donation, with a sliding scale for larger organizations,” a news release stated. “Reservations can be made online, by phone or email.”