A Sydney community group said it’s becoming too expensive for community groups to enter the Mardi Gras parade, with another entry fee hike this year.

Social gay and lesbian networking group Come Out Australia president Alex Day told Sydney Star Observer the $110 entry fee for community floats is getting out of reach for groups operating on meagre budgets.

“This year it will be okay, but we’re going to have to make a decision some time that we’re not going to be able to afford that,” Day said.

“$110 can go a long way for a community organisation.”

Come Out, which has about 120 members in several branches across suburban Sydney, relies on self-run fundraising events, like BBQs, to make ends meet.

Day said other costs for the event such as truck hire, costumes, paint and signage all add up.

Added to this are Fair Day fees, he said, which have risen from around $60 in 2000 to almost $300 in 2010.

The group, which offers support to people coming out, has marched in the parade since 2000.

“I think the community by and large still loves [Mardi Gras]. They’re annoyed with them, and they [NMG] need to be told that, but I think by and large the community still loves the idea of it. I know our members look forward to it each year.
“If it’s a bad year financially for a group like ours, we’re going to have to ask ourselves, ‘Can we do this?’ If that starts up, there’ll be less engagement with the community and the community may not love it as much as it does now.”
Not everyone agrees the cost is too prohibitive. Mature Age Gays president Steve Ostrow told SSO he had no problems with the $110 price tag.

“It’s quite reasonable and it’s all for a good purpose and it’s not gigantic. We take up a lot of room,” he said.
NMG media spokesman Damien Eames confirmed the parade entry fees have increased by about 10 percent this year and prices have risen in line with inflation.

“I’d like to stress that we do waive fees in some cases where requests are made and we have our grants scheme which doesn’t just cover entry fees but other things,” he told SSO.

“The costs underlying meeting state safety standards have raced ahead in the last decade.”

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