After weeks of avoiding requests for interviews about Pride Fort Lauderdale’s operations and issues associated with Pride of the Americas (POTA), President Miik Martorell had a lengthy phone conversation with SFGN Friday.
During the 48-minute conversation, he addressed many of the questions raised by SFGN’s exclusive investigation which has uncovered crises ranging from poor planning and resignations of leadership positions to a lack of transparency in the 501(c)3 organization.
SFGN reached out to Martorell for comment before each story. After two major sponsors, Midland/CAN and Tito’s vodka, withdrew support worth around $150,000 in financial and in-kind support, he spoke with SFGN.
TRANSPARENCY: When it comes to Pride’s transparency, Martorell cited technical issues. Their own by-laws require all minutes to be posted in a timely fashion, and for board meetings to be publicly announced at least 48 hours in advance. Martorell said the minutes may have been lost during their somewhat recent revamp of their website. He said he would get the minutes and budget posted soon, but likely after POTA.
BUDGET SHORTFALLS: Even before major sponsors pulled out, POTA was expecting to lose at least $21,000. Originally scheduled for April 2020 before being delayed by COVID, POTA was a partnership with Visit Lauderdale, Broward County’s tourism arm. Visit Lauderdale requested half of their original investment back. That was at least $150,000. Other fundraising from community supporters did not meet expectations.
“This year was extra challenging, but I don't really know why,” he told SFGN.
POWER OF THE PURSE: When it comes to spending, everything runs through Martorell. While the treasurer writes all checks, Martorell is the only one who is authorized to sign them.
RESCHEDULING THE EVENT: POTA was originally scheduled for April. Being after season meant more hotel rooms at cheaper rates. Martorell says changes to rules regarding Sea Turtle nesting areas are primarily to blame for the mid-February date. Relocating and protecting nests would cost about $160,000, money Pride doesn’t have. Martorell also said the official dates of nesting season were moved up to the end of February.
PARADE: Martorell insisted the parade will go on, but they will be on a very tight schedule. They only have A1A for three hours: thirty minutes to close the road, two hours for the parade, and thirty minutes to reopen the street. During Wilton Manors’ city commission meeting last week, it was announced the city, the hub of LGBT life in South Florida, would not have a float.
After, City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson told SFGN a delegation would walk the route, but that Pride had told them there wasn’t enough time or space for a float. Martorell denies this. He said access to floats was in short supply and that Wilton Manors was not denied a float due to time restrictions.
ENTERTAINMENT: In the middle of last week, there were rumors that POTA’s headlining act, Boy George of 80s sensation Culture Club, was ‘ghosting’ organizers. Martorell said he had communicated with Boy George’s management as recently as Friday before Martorell talked to SFGN. He said Pride had paid $75,000 upfront and would pay the balance, another $75,000 a day or two before POTA. This is a common way artists are paid for events.
DEPARTURES: Since mid-December, 2022, there has been an exodus of Pride leadership. Executive Director Kevin Clevenger will leave after POTA. Two board members have resigned, as has now-former Entertainment Director Shawn Palacious (aka Kitty Meow). Martorell says he has confidence in remaining leadership and expects POTA to be a success under the current team’s stewardship.
HIS FUTURE WITH PRIDE: Martorell says he will stay in his position as President of Pride through and after POTA. His term runs through June. He says he hopes to stay but that is up to the board.