A HYBRID party and concert to help raise money for a new phone app that could have a positive impact on LGBTI youth will take place on Saturday night at one of Sydney’s most popular gay nightclubs, with some well-known names in the line-up of performances.
Organised by It Gets Better Australia — an official affiliate of the well-known It Gets Better campaign in the US founded by Dan Savage — the It Gets Better Live benefit event will be the Australian-based group’s first major fundraiser since it was founded and registered as a charity in August 2011.
Indeed, a major benefit concert was originally meant to be held in 2014, but it was postponed.
In addition, when this weekend’s event was originally announced in March, it was also billed as a concert at the Big Top in Sydney’s Luna Park. But last Thursday, organisers suddenly announced a relocation to ARQ Nightclub, as well as a price drop for the tickets (it’s now from $20).
“Things don’t always happen the way you need them to when you’re running events so you always need a plan B, as well as a plan C, D an E,” Parker said.
“But, it’s all going ahead, everything is happening. There is a lot of excitement for it.”
He said two reasons why the venue changed was because of the lack of interest in Luna Park, as well as slow ticket sales.
“Unfortunately when you have the weather we’ve been having recently [in Sydney], tied with this week’s expected weather reports.. plus the fact the that the event was supposed to be happening north of the [Harbour] Bridge, community support seems to be lacking,” Parker said.
“There seems to be something about going north of the bridge that people aren’t too keen on. That’s fine, we took that into consideration, we took into consideration the weather report as well.
“Tickets were selling, but it wasn’t bringing us into a comfortable space. [But] ever since moving to ARQ, tickets have been selling much faster, and support from the community is stronger.”
The headlining artist for the 18-plus event is all-girl pop music group GRL, who in September last year lost member Simone Battle as a result of suicide — making their appearance at It Gets Better Live quite symbolic.
Other names in the performance line-up include Paulini, Anja Nissen and Matthew Garwood, alongside a few DJs and drag queens.
“It’s less than a concert, it’s more than a party. It’s a bit of everything,” Parker said.
“We’ve got Oxford St’s favourite dancers, three of Oxford St’s favourite DJs… two of Oxford St’s favourite hostesses, and then we’ve got four amazing artists that have come together to support a much-needed cause.”
Parker said he had always wanted to host a benefit event for a charity but rather than hold a gala ball with expensive tickets, he wanted something that was easily accessible to youth.
He also said that in the past four years, money that has been raised for It Gets Better Australia — including a 2013 crowdfunding campaign — was used to help maintain its operations and presence, such as appearances at Fair Day during Mardi Gras. However, this Saturday night would be “the first major event of its kind” in terms of large-scale fundraising.
“We’ve had pubs around the country that have run nights benefiting It Gets Better Australia,” Parker said.
“[But] It Gets Better Live will essentially be the the jewel in our crown.”
He outlined how the proceeds from the night will go towards several initiatives.
“We have a laundry list of objectives and an equally-long list of projects that kind of fits towards the objectives, and one of the key projects that we’re working on right now is an app that will essentially assist young LGBT people to locate health services that are relevant to them, or health services that are comfortable or qualified to assist LGBTI youth,” he said.
“That’s our main project and one we’re pushing hard on at the moment.”
Parker would not reveal the rest of his “laundry list” of future projects, but he said he expected much of the proceeds from Saturday night will go towards the app development plus its rollout to schools across Australia.
He also said It Gets Better Australia relies on volunteers, runs on a small operating budget, and while it is supported by a number of organisations — it does not have a current major sponsor.
However, in May 2014 BT Financial Group announced a major sponsorship agreement with the charity.
When contacted about it, BT told the Star Observer the sponsorship agreement was now under review.
“Our sponsorship specifically related to an event that they have had difficulties being able to deliver. This event was agreed to be held in October last year and we have been continually working with them to help them achieve and deliver what they promised. We are reviewing this contract as a result of the event not going ahead as planned,” a BT spokeswoman said in a statement.
“We are disappointed our sponsorship wasn’t fulfilled however we still fully support the intentions of their campaign to build confidence and self-esteem of LGBTI youth and reduce suicide and self-harm of vulnerable members of our community.”
Parker told the Star Observer afterwards that due to the review, BT had requested he not discuss their sponsorship with the media.
BT declined to disclose if there were any donations or monetary spending before the sponsorship agreement went under review.
It Gets Better Live is on Saturday, May 2, in Sydney at ARQ Nightclub, 16 Flinders St, Darlinghurst. Full details and tickets: itgetsbetter.yapsody.com