The Utah Pride Center will not close, officials say, deviating from an earlier statement

Center officials said they “regrettably” did not communicate well in their Aug. 22 public statement.

(Alex Gallivan | Special for the Tribune) The Utah Pride Center celebrated its grand opening at its new location at 1380 S. Main St. on Saturday, May 19, 2018. A week after the deletion, the Utah Pride issued a statement Center issued a new statement that hinted at its closure.

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

The earlier statement, sent out in a newsletter to the center’s supporters on Aug. 22 and briefly posted to its Instagram account, described that the nonprofit’s financial situation was in “massive turmoil” and that “the center may be closed, revived or restarted”.

The statement came after QSaltLake magazine’s Michael Aaron reported that more than a third of the center’s staff had been laid off.

Wednesday’s statement — signed by Tanya Hawkins, the center’s CEO and executive director, and Jess Couser, who has been identified as the center’s executive chair — said, “There is no doubt that the Utah Pride Center is currently facing financial difficulties .”

It then noted that the Utah Pride Festival in June was “successful” in uniting 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 manufacturers for its booth prices and that event security costs exceeded $300,000 — a fivefold increase from the previous year.

Because of the revenue shortfalls and “uncertainty,” the new statement said, the center’s leaders have had to “rethink our staffing and program models.” Leaders apologized that “we unfortunately did not communicate this clearly and effectively in our last public statement.”

The new statement said the center’s programming will be on hold in September for “an organizational restart.” But it also clearly states: “The Utah Pride Center will not be closed.”

The statement ends with a request for donations to anyone who “wants to help us get back on a solid financial footing.”

Representatives from the Utah Pride Center did not respond to comment on the new statement Wednesday night.

A job listing for a new CEO posted on job search site last week put the annual salary at between $77,000 and $150,000. As of Wednesday evening, that listing had not been posted to the Utah Pride Center’s job openings website.

Wednesday’s statement is asking for input and suggestions, which will be sent to Some community members voiced their criticism in the Instagram comments on Wednesday night.

According to the most recently filed Form 990, for the 12 months ended September 30, 2021, the Utah Pride Center reported income of $2,116,293 and expenses of $1,845,793 – a net income of $270,500 .

Almost 87% of that revenue, $1,839,120, came from contributions and grants. Most of the rest came from program services — including tickets to the Utah Pride Festival and fees for mental health counseling.

Several LGBTQ+ companies and organizations have offered their spaces for community access, including Club Verse, The Legendarium and Sugarhouse Coffee. The Tribune compiled a list of mental health resources in June.

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

Justin Scaccy

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