Mardi Gras pleads for saviour to keep gays on parade
By Andrew Hornery
June 28 2002
Sydney's debt-ridden Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will be placed in administration on Sunday unless a saviour is found willing to guarantee a $250,000 bank overdraft.
The Mardi Gras board's president, Julie Regan, made a plea for help yesterday, saying that several approaches to the State Government for help in recent weeks had been rejected.
"We can't give any assurances that October's sleaze ball or next year's mardi gras will go ahead until we know what our position is on Sunday," she said. "Long term, the organisation is viable, but we have a cash-flow problem."
This year's mardi gras made a $534,000 loss, which Ms Regan blamed on increased public liability insurance costs, a 30 per cent fall in United States visitors post-September 11 and a 20 per cent drop in box office takings from the associated arts festival.
In the past week, the board has asked mardi gras members to join a "supporter program" and pay up to $2500 each to help cover the "2003 Silver Jubilee", along with individual $50
donations to pay off debts.
On Tuesday, it reached crisis point when members received a letter titled "Mardi Gras S.O.S".
Last night, Ms Regan said she was yet to sign up any guarantors but said negotiations with several parties "looked promising".
The event's revenue for 2002 was $4,643,000 but spending was $5,181,000.
The biggest expense is the mardi gras party, which costs $2 million to stage. The parade costs $290,000 while the sleaze ball is another $674,000.
The annual parties have been the mardi gras's big money-spinners, subsidising the growing list of related activities.
In recent days attention has been focused on the loss-making arts festival, which this year cost $828,000 to produce.
A "community forum" to discuss the crisis will be held at the Mardi Gras Erskineville workshop tomorrow at noon.