The move to resurrect Sydney’s drag awards has been labelled a slap in the face by former DIVA chair Paul Croft.
The DIVA board started winding up the company last week, after a 17-year history hosting Sydney’s version of the Oscars for drag queens.
A new company, Avid Events Ltd, last week announced its intention to resurrect the industry awards nights, promising a new format and a fresh set of faces.
The event, to be held on October 26 at an undisclosed venue, will no longer be called the Drag Industry Variety Awards, but will now simply be referred to as Diva.
Croft said the original organisation had served its purpose in many ways. It had reached its natural life end.
If you look back over the last 18 years of DIVA, drag in Sydney has changed considerably, he told Sydney Star Observer.
The number of venues offering drag has decreased remarkably. We used to give out 21 awards and there was a genuine need for those awards.
As the number of venues offering drag has lessened, the demand for that structure has changed and it came to a point where something new needed to happen.
Croft said he was unhappy the new organisers had decided to continue using the word Diva.
Every one of the [DIVA] directors has offered their ongoing support, but the new board has come back and said it doesn’t really need anyone’s support.
I think it would be the common view of a number of us that a new organisation needs to stand on its own two feet and come up with its own concept. It needs to re-invent itself and not just borrow from what DIVA has created.
It’s a slap in the face to anyone who has ever worked on DIVA. If you want to start something, you start something new and if you want to distance yourself from DIVA then distance yourself from DIVA, but don’t borrow on its reputation and goodwill.
But new co-chair Greg Steele, aka Sheila Blige, refuted Croft’s claim, saying the new organisation was rescuing the awards night.
We saved it. If we hadn’t have stepped up there wouldn’t have been an awards night this year, he said.
What will be different will be the format. In the past, it’s been a sit down round table event and this year it won’t be like that, he said without elaborating on future plans before an official launch event.
Fellow co-chair Dejay Toborek (Shelly Legs Diamond) said the new organisation had spent a long time talking to the scene’s showgirls.
We have really listened to the showgirls about the future direction of the awards night. There are exciting changes to the format which will provide a very social evening we know the showgirls, their friends and admirers will enjoy.
The new Avid board includes DIVA founder David Wilkins (Dot Dingle). He  said he was very happy to be a link between the original version of DIVA and the new, and working with the new team on the necessary rethink and fresh approach of the big night.

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