The much-anticipated take-over of Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras season by New Mardi Gras (NMG) was confirmed this week, after creditors voted overwhelmingly to support the community proposal.

At a meeting held on Monday, creditors agreed to support a Deed of Company Arrangement (DCA) put forward by the old Mardi Gras board that proposed key assets of the organisation be purchased by NMG for a total of $349,000.

NMG re-issued calls this week to the community seeking support for the organisation, with NMG urgently needing to raise $150,000 through sponsorship and fundraising in order to meet the DCA’s first instalment deadline on 28 October.

NMG co-chair Stevie Clayton told Sydney Star Observer that recent failures to secure loans and other fundraising difficulties that had been plagued the board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) would not flow on to NMG.

We don’t actually think it’s [$150,000] a huge amount to raise. Obviously one of the bigger problems that the old [SGLMG] board had was that people had become disenchanted with them and they found it difficult to get the amount of support they needed in the time they had available, Clayton said.

We’ve got a month and I guess we’ve got a combination of a new group of people with a new range of contacts and we’ve got the fact that Mardi Gras coming so close to the brink has mobilised a lot of people wanting to contribute to creating something new for the future. We’re really confident that will translate into new dollars.

Most of the $150,000 from NMG’s first instalment will be used to cover administrators Sims Lockwood’s approximately $120,000 in fees -“ an unavoidable payment priority that goes with any voluntary administration process.

The remainder will be used as payment towards staff superannuation funds. All further money owed to SGLMG staff will be paid out by the commonwealth government, who will in turn become creditors of NMG.

Fundraising drives commenced last night, with lawyer John Marsden hosting a cocktail party at the Midnight Shift aimed at attracting donations for NMG.

Arq nightclub have also come forward to support NMG, announcing a Save The Mardi Gras Party on 17 October, which will be a free entry event that will ask for donations at the door. The event will feature host Claire de Lune and performances by Shauna Jensen and special guests.

Clayton said there have also been some early discussions with the Gay and Lesbian Business Association about putting together a fundraiser.

We’re also working on securing sponsorships for NMG and we’ve just received information from old Mardi Gras on their sponsorship details with sponsors like Qantas and Lion Nathan, Clayton said.

Before the end of this week we would have made approaches to those sponsors to see if they want to get on board again. We expect a relatively high success rate from that.

A parade forum held on Saturday and attended by over 40 people focused on the development of ideas for the 2003 parade as well as issues relating to sponsorship and raised seating.

Speaking at Pride’s annual general meeting on Tuesday night, NMG board member Murray McLachlan revealed some of the key outcomes of the NMG parade forum.

A suggestion that came through from 78er Sally Abrahams was that the parade should be led by the 78ers and once they arrive at Taylor Square, they move to both sides of the square and symbolically allow the youth parade to go forward, he said.

It’s a handing over of the baton to future generations and we think it would be a hugely powerful statement to celebrate Mardi Gras’ 25th year. A major focus for us is young gay and lesbian people. What we need to do is make sure young people are involved, engaged and heard.

NMG co-chair Michael Woodhouse told the Star that tight budgets would not mean a dull season for 2003.

A leaner Mardi Gras doesn’t mean a low-budget version of previous seasons. What it does mean is a chance to renew and re-invigorate the key events of Mardi Gras, he said.

NMG also announced another board member this week. Matthew Stewart, who carries a background in sponsorship and marketing, will manage sponsorship for the organisation.

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