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August 1, 2008

Cleveland Pride opens a permanent storefront office

Cleveland--A month after bringing the LGBT Pride parade and festival back into the black despite a rainout of this year’s celebration, the event’s organizers unveiled their new office.

Located in a storefront on the northwest corner of Detroit Avenue and West 111th Street, the new space will allow Cleveland Pride to maintain a year-round presence in the community, have records available for viewing and provide storage for materials.

Records and surplus materials from the festival currently are scattered, with treasurer N. Lee Dybo holding most of the organization’s paperwork while the organization’s supplies are being stored in a commercial space.

“The board had talked about this earlier in the year,” said Dybo.

The move is “primarily to allow us a space to work, a place to keep all our files, our inventory, to give us a location to meet as frequently as we need without having to rely on other places.”

More than their own convenience, it will also be “a place where the community can find us at all times.”

The organization took out a one-year lease on the space, with rent of $600 a month.

“The board approved the budget in January of 2008,” Dybo noted. “It was a budgeted and discussed item.”

July and August rent are already paid, and Pride is already actively seeking sponsors for next year’s festival instead of waiting until a few months before the event.

That search for sponsors will not only pay for the location, but is also the justification for the space.

During an open house on July 23, board president Todd Saporito noted that some of the larger corporate sponsors he approached expressed concern about the organization, which had no permanent presence except in the lead-up to the June parade and festival.

Cleveland Pride is the only one in the state that is run by an independent organization, not linked to an LGBT center.

Cincinnati Pride’s committee is under the Greater Cincinnati LGBT Coalition, part of the Cincinnati LGBT Center. Columbus Pride is organized by Stonewall Columbus. Dayton’s is run by the Dayton Pride Partnership, a coalition of businesses and non-profits, including the LGBT center.

That gives those events a year-round presence and visibility in their communities.

In addition to budgeting for the rent and utilities, Cleveland Pride has identified office needs like furniture, and board members sought out the most value for their money.

Instead of spending money on shipping furniture, for instance, Dybo will pick it up.

A target date of August 10 is set for opening the office, and the records and inventory are expected to be in the facility within a week.

Dybo pointed to the organization’s charter for their non-profit status, which not only includes as its purpose putting on the Pride festival, but also doing outreach to the community.

That, says Dybo, is what is at the heart of moving into their own office--“true outreach and community involvement year-round.”

“We’re intending to grow and become more and more involved, incorporate more people into the organization as well,” Dybo concluded.

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