ALTHOUGH they recorded an increase in the number of attendances, ticket sales, gross profit and improved event production costs for its 2015 festival season, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has announced a $336,057 loss at the end of a 15 month financial year ending June 30.
The organisation’s available bank balance has also dropped in those 15 months, from $1,110,782 at the end of March 2014, to $321,732 at the end of June this year.
“The new season will be announced in November with an increase in the number of events,” board members said in a joint statement sent to the Star Observer today.
“We’ll be looking over the entire program to ensure our events are relevant, fresh and inclusive across the whole community and aligned to our strategic vision.”
In the organisation’s annual report published yesterday, the 15 months of financial activities were recorded instead of the normal 12 months due to the change in the financial year system. Previously, the financial year used to end soon on March 31. However, at the 2014 Annual General Meeting, members voted to align the financial years of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with Mardi Gras Arts Limited, subsequently adding an extra three months of financial activity until June 30, 2015.
The 2015 financial loss is almost twice as much as Mardi Gras’ $177,152 loss from 2014 — which was recorded under the previous financial year that ended on March 31 that year.
In 2013, a near $46,000 profit was recorded. Before that, Mardi Gras had spent three consecutive years in the red with a loss of $576,000 in 2010.
According to Mardi Gras’ latest annual report, the one-off additional three months added to the 2014/2015 financial year saw $190,159 in net expenses accrued, which would otherwise have been attributed to the following financial year.
In addition, a write down of assets of $59,684 occurred this financial year, a “strategic decision” to provide an accurate account of Mardi Gras’ assets.
Mardi Gras also incurred redundancy costs of $45,794, which contributed to the 2015 financial loss and resulted in a more efficient organisation that will aim to balance future budgets.
The annual report highlighted that if one were to look at the 12-month period ending March 31 this year, the loss for 2015 was $86,214 — a $91,430 improvement on 2014. In addition, results showed a $103,092 improvement in expenses on the same period.
The 2015 festival reportedly grew to reach over one million people from around Australia and internationally. Parade entries were also at record numbers, with 10,500 community members and their supporters coming together to celebrate the festival’s highlight event.
More than 80,000 people also attended Fair Day, and an at-capacity crowd of over 14,000 attended Mardi Gras Party.
Due to these record attendances, Mardi Gras said ticketing sales were $2,110,931 compared to $2,084,009 in 2014, an improvement of $26,922 despite tickets being cheaper on average by 11 to 28 per cent across core events.
Looking forward, Mardi Gras expected to have a per annum saving of $92,ooo, with $67,000 in savings in the first year due to some one-off restructure costs.
With Sydney undergoing a major period of change, including some tram work construction ear marked along streets used by the Mardi Gras Parade, Mardi Gras confirmed there will no be changes to the parade route for 2016.
“We have no plans to reduce the scope of the parade in 2016,” the board members said in today’s joint statement to the Star Observer.
“We have been working closely with NSW Government agencies over the last year to manage any impacts. The parade will be as fabulous as ever on March 5.”
However, things may change for 2017 and beyond — including Mardi Gras’ 40th anniversary in 2018.
“Plans for 2017 and beyond are still in discussions. We will be conducting a feasibility study around Parade in coming months that will also investigate likely impacts of transport works on the current route over the next few years,” the board members said.
“If we do need to propose variations or changes to the Parade route we will undertake rigorous community consultation.”
Mardi Gras also aimed to relocate to a permanent workshop in 2016 to help save costs, an idea that current Mardi Gras chief executive Michelle Bauer flagged to the Star Observer in April.
“There are no plans to relocate the offices currently, however if we find a suitable location, we would investigate options to co-locate should the opportunity present,” board members stated.
Mardi Gras also confirmed that the post-parade party will remain the same size as it was in 2015 for the next season.
“The Party is a core celebratory event and building on last year’s huge success we are extremely excited at how the creative and potential talent line up is shaping up,” they told Star Observer.
“The profile for Party will change as the [Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park] continues to develop.
“The Dome is the first site to be redeveloped, so may no-longer be a venue option.”
To read Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ annual report in full, click here