Due to both public health orders and budgetary constraints, the City has not programmed any live, in-person events to celebrate LGBTQ Pride 2021. With Pride Month in June fast approaching, The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented the West Hollywood City Council with a proposal requesting a co-sponsorship with the city and a choice of three packages offering both digital and in-person programming options for a WeHo Pride 2021 celebration.
At a regular City council meeting on Monday, April 19, 2021, WeHo Chamber President/CEO Genevieve Morrill made a presentation for a WeHo Pride with the help of JJ LA, which has produced previous LA Pride events.
- Package 1 would include a digital production baseline offering the creation of a WeHo Pride virtual platform/website to host, showcase and publicize all event details in a centralized hub. The package would consist of digital content that is submitted by businesses, local talent and City stakeholder groups. Submitted content would be edited and organized into approximately 8-12 hours of content that can be showcased on the WeHo Pride hub and City media outlets. WHCC Estimates the cost at $165,000.
- Package 2 is similar to Package 1, offering custom original content and digital production. This package includes fees for performances, DJs, personalities and comedians to be featured. Talent in this package is meant to be local, recognizable LGBTQ+ identified talent, recorded in a digital studio for professional quality and distribution. This will result in approx. 8-12 hours in total of City-sponsored programming. The WHCC Estimated Cost for Package 2 is $207,000.
- Package 3 is an in-person programming proposal offering programming options to supplement the digital packages offered. An idea up for discussion was the in-person Pride community hubs, for a 2-day curated “pop-up” outdoor environment. These can include seating areas, décor, audio and visual elements, collaborations between City businesses and non-profits and community booths among other possibilities. This includes production, security, rentals and staffing. Examples of potential pride community hub locations included the OUT on Robertson street closure, private parking lots, city businesses, and city parks. WHCC Estimated Cost to add 1 Hub for a Single Weekend: $31,000 (WHCC Estimated Cost to add 4 Hubs for a Single Weekend: $124,000). WHCC recommends that if the City chooses to co-sponsor the pride community hubs. It should be limited to a single weekend in June, either June 11 and 12, or June 25 and 26.
Councilmember John D’Amico acknowledged that in-person gatherings are becoming more common. He said there was an immediate attraction for hubs around the city. He said he was in support of four weekend events. “As we get closer to June, we are going to see more and more people come out,” he said. “Based on what I saw this weekend, you turn the lights on, and people show up. I think we need to be prepared for fairly robust crowds.”
Councilwoman Sepi Shyne expressed concern about creating a hot spot that would put the public at a health risk, so she did not support attracting large crowds for the proposed pop-up in-person hubs. She said she believe everyone will want to gather at the LGBT Rainbow District and that people were not going to hop on a bus to show up to places like Plummer Park or the West Hollywood Gateway. She proposed there being different themes at restaurants in relation to pride. She leaned more toward Package 1, but did not agree with the $165,000 price tag.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Lauren Meister leaned more towards Shyne’s concerns on public safety. She said she preferred a more controlled atmosphere at restaurants and bars. She also expressed concern about the price.
Council member John Erickson thinks people are “zoomed out” and he does not feel money should be spent on virtual entertainment that no one is going to watch. “I can’t watch another virtual pride,” he said. “I was reading JJ LA’s COVID protections that they have in place for in-person stuff and what we could do come June 15th, which is why I agree more with Council Member D’Amico on having or looking at four weekends of content. We want to make sure we’re paying attention to the public health order that council member Shyne and Mayor Pro-Tem Meister were talking about.”
Mayor Lindsey Horvath pointed out the programming through One City One Pride, a 40-day long LGBTQ Arts Festival, which will be virtual this year. She didn’t think people looking for virtual content were going to be at a loss. She also said the city would not need a WeHo Pride website.
D’Amico made a motion to target the weekend of June 26 and June 27 as what he suggested should officially be called WeHo Pride. He suggested the city focus on safe spaces. He agreed with Horvath that the city does not need a website. The city would co-partner with the Chamber to activate the business for the event and they would use OUT Zones and spaces like Out on Robertson instead of in-person hubs. He suggested the city put $200,000 this year, which he said is one-tenth of what the city has spent in previous pride events which was upwards of $2 million.
Shyne said she was not comfortable with a $200,000 budget. She thought $165,000 was a stretch. Meister wanted the $200,000 to include security, but $40,000 was already budgeted for security detail.
City Manager Paul Arevalo suggested the event budget be scaled down, but still wanted to city to welcoming to the community during pride. He suggested that the city rely on the Chamber to help the business community stay focused on the celebration.
The motion was updated to a budget of $100,000 which would include $50,000 for security detail. D’Amico added $10,000 to engage the Chamber on a transgender element. He amended his motion to cap the budget at $110,000.
Council member Erickson seconded the motion as long as the $10,000 included the Bi POC community as well.
The motion passed unanimously.