New Mardi Gras has admitted it must reinvent its annual Sleaze party if it is to remain a viable fundraiser, after missing out on as much as $250,000 last year because of lower than expected attendance.

The organisation could also reshape its season Launch after this year’s much-criticised event lost $25,000, despite having an entry charge for the first time in its history.

New Mardi Gras’ final financial results for the 2006 season appear in an annual report released ahead of the organisation’s annual general meeting on 8 July.

As reported by Sydney Star Observer in April, New Mardi Gras reported a cash profit of $91,000 on the 2006 season. Its overall profit of about $158,000 comes after tax write-backs and adjustments.

The result is a dramatic turnaround on 2005, when New Mardi Gras lost about $300,000.

This year, the organisation improved takings for all major events except its arts festival, which made nearly $20,000 last year but just under $10,000 in 2006.

However, it still lost money on Launch, Fair Day and the parade in 2006, and lost $675,000 through administration expenses. Last year’s administration loss was $762,000.

Of particular concern was last year’s Sleaze result, with ticket sales 2,500 lower than expected.

New Mardi Gras chair Marcus Bourget told Sydney Star Observer ticket prices and competing events on the same weekend explained the sales shortfall. New Mardi Gras is now considering a Sleaze shake-up.

The challenge now is to reinvent Sleaze as an event the community wants to attend while still ensuring that the organisation can raise sufficient money to fund the following year’s season, the annual report said.

Bourget said Sleaze would definitely go ahead this year in its traditional Fox Studios home. He would not be drawn on possible changes to the event.

New Mardi Gras may also opt for a new-look Launch after losing only $4,000 less this year than in 2005, despite charging a $10 entry fee.

Bourget said New Mardi Gras had budgeted to lose about $10,000 on Launch. The bulk of the loss came from lower than expected ticket sales.

Asked if New Mardi Gras would charge for the event in 2007, Bourget said, I’m not in a position to give you any concrete answer on that. It’s something that the incoming board will have to address.

But certainly it’s been a recurring theme throughout that last 12 months that if Mardi Gras is to survive that all our events must either be profitable or revenue-neutral, with the exception of the parade.

The annual report also shows New Mardi Gras’ overall sponsorship revenue fell in 2005-2006, despite its three-year, $1.5-million deal with Gaydar.com.au signed last November.

Bourget said financial sustainability was still some way off.

It’s good that we made the profit we did, but you have to wear that in the context, he said.

It’s not a lot of money. We have to really work hard and the challenge for the coming year is to grow our overall profit into a sustainable level.

Meantime, New Mardi Gras is still waiting for financial company GAL to file a defence against an alleged breach of a sponsorship deal. As reported by the Star last month, New Mardi Gras is suing GAL for about $40,000 for the alleged breach.

Bourget said GAL had asked for an extension of time to file a defence.

Nothing will be happening for at least a month.

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