March 23, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 12
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Friday, Aug 07, 2020



2007 Pride planning 'moving forward'
2007 Pride planning 'moving forward'
Contract yet to be signed with Seattle Center, Secretary of State seeks SOAP charitable organization filing

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Planning for the one-day Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, June 24, is underway according to Seattle Out And Proud and Independent Event Solutions (IES), the event production company that will stage the event. The future of the festival at the Seattle Center was in doubt until Seattle Center reached a tentative agreement with SOAP regarding its $100,026.33 past due 2006 debt.

IES co-founder Dave Meinert told the Seattle Gay News on Wednesday, that organizing for the event was "moving forward" and that announcements could come as early as Thursday, March 22. However, no announcements had been received by the SGN by press time.

Despite the progress, the three parties have yet to sign a formal contract; a step each side has said would come shortly. "Seattle Center and SOAP are in the process of finalizing the tentative agreement reached on March 2," said David Heurtel, Seattle Center's Director of Marketing and Business Development. The responsibility for the delay lay equally among them, he added.

SOAP President Eric Albert-Gauthier asserted that there was "no rush" and that the tentative agreement with the Seattle Center was "solid."

"There is no delay really. We had to get paperwork done with IES and the Center had to get their paperwork done," he said.

The terms of the agreement include a payment plan for SOAP's debt to the Seattle Center, which includes an immediate payment of $50,000 and two payments of $25,000 each over the next two years. SOAP was required to hire a professional event planner and sponsorship development firm. The Seattle Center also will have oversight over the 2007 festival budget.

Corporate sponsorships, according to Albert-Gauthier, will be key to ensuring the financial success of the 2007 Pride Parade and Festival. When asked how sponsorship solicitation was going, he replied: "Fantastic. We had to hold off on some until we completed the deal with Seattle Center, but now things are moving ahead quickly. All sorts of exciting partnerships are happening with national corporations and local businesses."

SOAP had hired Cindy Baccetti last month to solicit sponsorships. Sources also report IES co-founders Marcus Charles and Dave Meinert, owners and investors in several local bars and restaurants, had been soliciting sponsorships from Capitol Hill area bars.

In a letter dated February 22, 2007, the Secretary of State's office notified Seattle Out And Proud that the organization was out of compliance with the Charitable Solicitations Act, which requires organizations soliciting contributions in Washington State to register as a charitable organization.

"It has come to our attention that Seattle Out And Proud may solicit and/or receive contributions in Washington State to support it's activities," wrote Cindy Sexton of the Secretary of State's Charities Program. "Pursuant to Washington State law, the organization is required to register with our office as a 'charitable organization,' unless otherwise exempted."

The letter gave SOAP 30 days to comply. In addition to an application and a $20 registration fee, SOAP must provide a solicitation report and copies of its most recent IRS filing.

Tabatha Blacksmith of the Secretary of State's Charities Program told the SGN last week that the letter had been sent in response to a consumer inquiry.

"We received an inquiry from a consumer who wanted to know if the organization was registered with the Charities Program," she said. "When we receive a consumer inquiry regarding an unregistered entity that solicits contributions in Washington State, we mail them an inquiry letter informing them of the registration requirements and requesting that they register or respond within 30 days."

Blacksmith said the law aims to protect consumers from "deceptive and dishonest practices in the conduct of soliciting funds" and to discourage "improper use of contributions intended for charitable purposes."

Albert-Gauthier said that SOAP's failure to register with the Secretary of State's Charities Program was an oversight. "It's in process," he said. "Our attorney is taking care of the filing. The paperwork is being filed and expedited with the charities division."

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