BY MAURICE FARRELL
SYDNEY Reporting on its 2002 readership survey, the October 10 Sydney Star Observer stated that the gay and lesbian market remains buoyant, despite the difficulties faced this year by peak event-based community organisations. The article was referring to the collapse of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Ltd and the continuing financial difficulties confronting the organising committee behind the 2002 gay gaymes to be held later this month.
The annual Sleaze Ball began as a fundraiser for the now defunct Mardi Gras Ltd. This year, the October ball was organised by Pride part of New Mardi Gras, which will be organising the annual parade. Far from it's heyday, when more than 20,000 gays and lesbians attended, this years Sleaze Ball distributed 6-7000 tickets (including guest and complimentary tickets).
Pride has reported a financial loss of $47,019 for the last financial year and expects to have a $50,000 to $60,000 hole in its 2003 budget. Pride's other forays into dance parties netted a loss of $37,000 over three revolution parties.
Sydney 2002 Gay Games co-chair Bev Lange has publicly attempted to gather support amongst the queer community in Sydney to avert the games facing the same problems as Mardi Gras, saying: The Games need help, and we need you to go out there and buy tickets. But the organisation needs money right now, and Ticketek has refused to release revenue until after the event.
The New Mardi Gras group is a coalition of prominent community identities and financial advisers. The group will focus on the five core Mardi Gras money making events: the official launch, the fair day, the profitable events in the month-long arts festival and the parade and party on March 1. The New Mardi Gras group appears sincere in wanting community input and support for the world's largest gay and lesbian pride and protest event. The 2003 parade will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mardi Gras. It will be led off by the 78ers, queers that marched in the 1978 parade, many of whom were arrested for marching. Midway through the 2003 parade, the 78ers will symbolically usher in a new era of queer liberation.
From Green Left Weekly, October 23, 2002.
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