New Mardi Gras (NMG) took another leap forward this week, with administrators Sims Lockwood releasing a report advising creditors to endorse the new organisation.

The creditors report supports a new Deed of Company Arrangement (DCA) put forward by the board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The new DCA would see New Mardi Gras purchase key assets of the old organisation for a maximum of $349,000 in staged payments between now and March 2004.

The fate of NMG will now come down to the outcome of next Monday’s creditors meeting, where creditors will decide whether to take the administrator’s advice and allow NMG to buy out the assets of the old company, or to put the company into liquidation.

This is the best chance we have of keeping assets in community hands. We will have access to and control over membership lists, but it also means that the name Mardi Gras is going to return to an organisation that has a community membership base, newly elected NMG co-chair Michael Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer.

If creditors accept the DCA, the new organisation will have to raise $150,000 from the community and through sponsorship in order to meet the first instalment of payments on 28 October.

NMG will have to follow the October payment with a second instalment of $70,000 in April 2003 (after next year’s Mardi Gras season) and a third in November 2003 of $70,000.

Stevie Clayton, NMG’s other recently elected co-chair, said the follow-up payments will be secured via revenue generated by next year’s Mardi Gras season and through sponsorship.

Old Mardi Gras have talked to about eight sponsors who have indicated that they are keen to continue on with a new organisation, Clayton said. It would be dependent on being able to use the name Mardi Gras and if the creditors vote for the deed. Then we can go to those sponsors and ask them to step in.

In addition, the NMG 2003 and 2004 parties will include a levy of two dollars, which will generate a maximum of up to $30,000 from each party which will be payable to creditors.

The DCA also outlines the SGLMG directors’ proposal that some of the props and costumes be sold for the benefit of creditors.

Our proposal will guarantee staff entitlements and provide some return to other creditors, Woodhouse said.

NMG has also announced four new board members, who fill in remaining positions in the final line-up of NMG’s 10-member board.

Dathi Holden, who is the general manager of an IT company, will take responsibility for the launch. Insurance agent Jock McKeon will oversee the 2003 party and Tricia Sneddon, who is a general manager at a management consultancy company, will take on responsibility for fair day.

Luke Cutler, one of the founding artistic directors of Adelaide’s Feast Festival and currently working on the Gay Games 2002 festival, will step in for NMG 2003 festival.

Brendan Crotty will take on treasurer and audit responsibilities, Nicci Clayhills will be company secretary, Karla Hansford will supervise finance and admin, Murray McLachlan will oversee constitution, Stuart Newell will take on fundraising, and Jacqui Jones will look after the parade.

Clayton asserted that juggling roles as ACON CEO and NMG co-chair would not necessarily involve any conflict of interest.

[ACON have] worked closely with community organisations on issues of health and safe sex at dance parties and we’ve had a close relationship with Old Mardi Gras. I wouldn’t expect it to be any different now, but certainly when any occasions arise either for Mardi Gras or ACON that might involve a conflict of interest, then I would be abstaining from those discussions, Clayton said.

NMG co-chair Michael Woodhouse has resigned his position as director of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Community Publishing Ltd, the publisher of Sydney Star Observer, to avoid any possibility of conflict of interest.

The board of NMG is calling on the community to lend their support by donating to The AIDS Trust Mardi Gras Fund, which despite being set up for a number of weeks, has only attracted limited community interest.

There’s still a small number of donors. Some people have been waiting to know whether New Mardi Gras had a chance at buying out the assets. We now have an excellent chance of that so now is an essential time for people to get behind us, Woodhouse said.

The next NMG community forum will take place at Petersham’s Metropolitan Community Church on 12 October.

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