ANDIE NOONAN

ChillOut is the latest festival to reveal it is seeking government sponsorship, following the announcement last week that New Mardi Gras (NMG) will be backed by the NSW government in 2009.

Incoming ChillOut president Doug Pollard said the festival has been actively seeking other government money, but could not elaborate further.

ChillOut is Australia’s largest rural gay and lesbian festival, however it will be competing next year with Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras festival which will also be held on the Labour Day long weekend, March 6-9.

ChillOut is run entirely by volunteers and relies solely on support from local businesses and sponsors. It already receives sponsorship from Tourism Victoria, Hepburn Shire Council, The RJM Trust, corporate sponsors and local businesses in the region.

Last year ChillOut attracted more than 25,000 visitors to the area and is estimated to have generated more than $8m worth of business in the Hepburn Shire alone.

Pollard said he was happy with the current level of sponsorship and was hopeful the clash with Sydney’s Mardi Gras wouldn’t impact on numbers in 2009.

Obviously Victoria will have to think very carefully about the level of support it gives to gay and lesbian festivals in Victoria for it to continue to compete with Mardi Gras, now they’ve got so much money behind them, he told the Star.

I don’t think it’ll make a lot of difference. It’s just one of those unfortunate coincidences.

New Mardi Gras has signed a funding deal with Events NSW, securing money to pay for next year’s parade and festival.

The ChillOut board has also seen line-up changes with Pollard taking over as president and outgoing president, Jim Culbertson resuming the hands-on role of festival director.

The board has also announced newcomer Adam Wright, currently the Executive Officer of Country Awareness Network Victoria (formerly known as Country AIDS Network), as its volunteer coordinator.
To be held again in Daylesford, the theme for ChillOut 2009 will be the ’70s-inspired Disco Stampede.

It’s a lot of fun. If you want to let your hair down and be thoroughly daggy and dress up and dance your tits off, what better way to do it than in platform shoes and satin pants, Pollard said.

Let’s bring back hot pants and chest hair and platform shoes.

Tribute group BABBA and the Topp Twins (NZ) have confirmed, with the main act yet to be revealed.

info: Chillout 2009 is on March 6-9. Details: www.chilloutfestival.com.au

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