An attempt to move the annual AIDS Walk in San Francisco from the summer to the fall has been abandoned.
Now in its 27th year, the charity event is normally held in mid July. But it comes just weeks after the yearly Pride parade held the last Sunday of June and seven weeks after the AIDS/Lifecycle charity ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Earlier this year MZA Events, which produces the AIDS Walk, tried to secure permits to hold the fundraiser through Golden Gate Park in October. But city officials balked, as the month is chock-a-block with events, from the Castro Street Fair to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and Halloween.
The event organizers had wanted to hold the AIDS Walk Sunday, October 13, which is the last weekend of the annual Fleet Week festivities. Despite the cancellation this year of the Blue Angels aerial show due to federal budget cuts, the salute to naval service members will still take place.
Because of the scheduling conflict, the AIDS Walk could not secure the necessary permits to hold the event that day. It will instead be held Sunday, July 21.
“We worked with the various departments, and given how packed the fall event schedule is in Golden Gate Park and elsewhere in the city, it proved logistically impossible to move the walk into the fall this year,” gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener told the Bay Area Reporter this week.
James Loduca, vice president of philanthropy and public affairs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the lead beneficiary of the AIDS Walk, told the B.A.R. that “MZA was unable to deliver” when asked about the event’s date this year.
MZA Events CEO and President Craig R. Miller, who founded the AIDS Walk, told the B.A.R. Friday, May 10 that due to the scheduling issues both this year’s walk and the 2014 event would remain in July. But Miller said the date change may be re-addressed in 2015.
“Our longtime friend and great supporter, Supervisor Scott Wiener, along with the AIDS Walk San Francisco organizing staff, did a really thorough job of trying to make this happen, while also remaining sensitive to good public process, and the importance of preserving our strong relationships with the various neighborhoods that are most affected,” wrote Miller in an email. “The San Francisco AIDS Foundation also made efforts to achieve the date move. Ultimately, it was just not doable for 2013.”
Miller added that, “For 2014, we are going to remain focused on other important and beneficial changes to the event, not a date move. We may choose to revisit this issue, in concert with Project Inform and Supervisor Wiener, well prior to the 2015 event.”
As reported in December, Miller decided to end his relationship with SFAF after this year’s AIDS Walk and signed an agreement with Project Inform to be the lead benefiting agency in 2014.
In 2011 Miller alerted SFAF officials of his desire to partner with a smaller AIDS agency, as he felt the AIDS foundation no longer needed the fiscal infusion from the AIDS Walk and the money would be more of a benefit for other Bay Area nonprofits.
Due to the dissolution of the partnership, which will result in an budget deficit of $750,000 in 2014, SFAF decided not to hand out grants to AIDS Walk partner agencies this year. As reported in today’s B.A.R. it will mean a loss of $250,000 to the smaller nonprofits, who can still enter their own teams into the walk and receive the money raised by the team members.
In an email Loduca sent to the partner agencies Wednesday night ahead of publication of the B.A.R. story, he wrote that SFAF “made some big changes” to deal with its budget shortfall. The AIDS foundation eliminated a vice president position and reduced other administrative expenses, he wrote.
Loduca also noted that SFAF is implementing a 12 percent across-the-board reduction in discretionary expenses as it looks to protect its essential community programs and services.
“Even with all of these changes, we are unable to completely fill the revenue gap. That’s why we’ve made some changes to our partner programs at this year’s walk,” wrote Loduca.
He acknowledged the decision isn’t “great news,” adding that SFAF “did the best we could in a difficult situation and tried to bear most of the financial burden internally and limit how much was passed along” to its community partners in the AIDS Walk.
While a few leaders of the smaller nonprofits have privately grumbled about the loss of the grant program, publicly most said this week it would not mean a significant hit to their budgets.