Report reveals that funding cuts led to the demise of a leading Manchester-based festival

The decision by Manchester City Council to cut its funding to arts organisation Queer Up North (QUN) was the final straw which ultimately put an end to its hopes of staying afloat, according to a report documenting the activities leading up to its decision to close in April 2011.

The company, well known for its annual festival, started trading in 1994, but since 2007 had been recording losses which led to a cumulative deficit of £83,000 following the June 2009 festival. The 2010 festival went ahead after the directors sought professional advice about the festival budget and in relation to the legal position of the company and the directors. Despite the subsequent withdrawal of offers of sponsorship by corporate sponsors and a £23,000 shortfall on the budget for box office takings, the 2010 festival still recorded a £21,000 surplus, and even though Arts Council England annual revenue funding, worth £102,000 in 2010/11, was coming to an end, the company then reached an agreement with Manchester Pride to act as Producing Partner for a 2011 festival. However, the sudden announcement of a funding cut – worth £30,000 – by Manchester City Council, which had been one of QUN’s key funders for 18 years, coupled with the reduction of a long-running sponsorship deal to the tune of £10,000, led Manchester Pride to decide that the collaboration was no longer financially feasible. In the absence of viable alternatives, the directors decided to place QUN into Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Creditors are now owed nearly £80,000, with the tax authorities and the bank accounting for over half of this. One creditor, who asked not to be named, described the organisation as “victims of circumstance” but added “reading the report it really does feel like there was some wildly optimistic accounting and questionable decision making too.”