Mardi Gras AGM hears of museum, workshop plans & name confusion
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) over the weekend with members of the not-for-profit community group largely pleased with the direction of the organisation as it seeks to diversify revenue streams for future Mardi Gras seasons.
Some members were however disappointed a final decision on the eventual name of the Sydney Mardi Gras parade would not be taken, after the board committed to further consultation on the issue following the controversial decision by the SGLMG board in late 2011 to drop the moniker ‘Gay and Lesbian’ from the parade’s title.
The AGM on Saturday, August 18 drew a sizeable crowd to ACON’s offices in Surry Hills with members hearing of plans to build on the success of this year’s festival which saw Mardi Gras post a loss of only $73,057 after losses of $575,627 and $133,678 were recorded in 2010 and 2011.
“Following the Kylie [Minogue] announcement to headline the party, ticket sales went crazy and the majority sold out despite one of wettest festival seasons in Mardi Gras history,” SGLMG chairperson Peter Urmson said.
“Whilst we are not-for-profit it was disappointing not to make a profit. Next year we are absolutely in the direction of making a profit.”
The SGLMG board unveiled plans to grow future revenue involving the creation of a permanent Mardi Gras museum as well as a multi-purpose workshop and head office that would be available for other community and arts groups to hire.
“An exhibition space will be provided on Oxford Street by Council next year for a temporary museum celebrating the 35th anniversary of Mardi Gras.
“We are ideally chasing the T2 site at Taylor Square for a permanent museum,” Urmson said.
“Pretty much all City of Sydney candidates involved in the current election campaign are supportive of the idea.”
CEO Michael Rolik, who has now decided to stay on in the position, said the creation of a permanent workshop would benefit the festival’s bottom line as well its creative pursuits.
“We want to work on making the festival have more razzle dazzle,” he said.
“We want to grow revenue streams and diversify risks.”
Urmson pointed out SGLMG would also continue its focus on trying to attract festivalgoers who may traditionally not attend Mardi Gras-themed events with a survey of youth recently completed to help offer a more engaging program.
“Programming this year was probably the best we've had in terms of diversity and appeal to youth and women and other members of the queer community,” Urmson said while discussing the sold-out success of the Women Say Something panels.
Discussion was also had on the decision by the SGLMG board last November to remove the words ‘Gay and Lesbian’ from the parade’s title in a stated attempt to “broaden the event’s appeal and reach new audiences”.
Following widespread community outrage, the board instigated a survey process in June and installed a community engagement team at the turn of the year to consult with members and other stakeholders on what name the parade should have. Members had also been promised that at the AGM they would be able to “vote on a motion regarding what names will be used going forward”.
That motion did not take place, with some at the AGM upset that the voices of members were not heard on the issue. One woman reminded the audience the SGLMG board last December pleaded for members not to hold an emergency general meeting over the name change as it promised to conduct proper and prompt consultation with members. Some others also wondered whether the community engagement team was being open about its consultation.
Urmson said the consultation and survey process would continue for a while as SGLMG wanted to ensure the most fitting name for the parade would be chosen.
“We don’t want to rush this,” he said.
“The board at this point isn’t considering a change in time for 2013.”
A copy of the 2012 Annual Report can be accessed at http://www.mardigras.org.au/annualreport/index.cfm