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Utah Pride Center lays off much of its staff as donations slow because of Covid-19 and postponed Pride Festival

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As the Utah Pride Center’s largest fundraiser is postponed and possibly won’t happen this year at all, leaders have done what they call a “restructuring,” resulting in many layoffs of staff and a reduction of services.

The Utah Pride Festival has been postponed until September.

Executive director Rob Moolman and the Center’s board of directors made this decision “out of an abundance of caution for the finances and long-term future of the Center,” Moolman said.

“This downsizing is happening as a result of Covid-19’s impact on our funding streams,” explained Moolman. “We are seeing slow and lower donor engagement, depressed economic outlook, large donors funds tied to the stock market, and the slow rollout of the PPP/SBA grants to non-profits.”

“This has become our reality,” he said.

“This decision was made in order to better address the core needs of our communities at this time and to ensure that the Center is able to provide services, resources and programming that will meet their needs now and into the future,” the Center wrote in a statement. “The message from the Utah Pride Center is, and always will be, that we care about our LGBTQ+ family and allies and that there is a space that is here for everyone.”

“The Pride Center has been a brave and safe space for the LGBTQ+ communities since 1992,” the statement continued. “Before Covid-19 forced the temporary closure of the physical space, there were over 1,800 people visiting the Center per month for a variety of support groups, identity-based programming, community meetings, and mental health therapy. Just as the pandemic struck, the staff adapted the majority of programming into virtual online spaces quickly and effectively. There are currently over 40 youth, adult, and senior meetings, events, and resource groups online and run by the staff of the Center.”

The Center let 10 people go late last week, and has 15 people remaining on staff.

“These are people with passion and commitment,” Moolman said. “It was a very difficult process.”

Moolman said that they had to determine who could help the Center keep going through this difficult time, and could help “get them through on the other side.” He also said the largest focus was on programming.

“We have to stay focused on the community,” Moolman said. “Our distinct focus while making these decisions was to keep our mental health programs and as much of our youth, family, and senior programs as we possibly could.”

The Center is, however, moving forward on expanding the LGBTQ+ suicide prevention and resource programming.

“Our focus at this time has to be our communities and providing support, services, and resources with a long-term, sustainable vision,” said board chair Mona Stevens. “I am confident that with the thoughtful, proactive, and creative planning, our Center will continue to be in a good financial position to manage through this crisis.”

Leaders say it is important to emphasize that they remain optimistic about hosting the annual Utah Pride Festival, scheduled for September 26 and 27.

“The event is vital to the Center’s future and the long-term ability to bounce back out of this crisis,” the statement said. “The Utah Pride Center is calling on sponsors, vendors, donors and community partners to continue their support this event, and more importantly, the Center and its work.”

“The Utah Pride Center is a community space, run by community and for community,” Moolman said. “We have never needed our communities more than right now. Please consider volunteering or donating to the Center if you are able.”

Several city and county leaders put together videos in support of the Center.

“We didn’t even know these videos were being made,” Moolman said. “I have never in all my days seen community leaders come out to support a center like this. It was truly touching.”

To help maintain the existence and vitality of the Utah Pride Center, you can become a sustaining member with monthly or yearly donations here. You can also make a one-time donation here.

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