Tickets to the Mardi Gras dance party will be available to the general public next year, the first time tickets have been free from membership restrictions since 1991.

New Mardi Gras announced that tickets would be available initially to members of the now defunct Mardi Gras organisation, as well as to those who have volunteered and made contact with New Mardi Gras. Four tickets would be reserved for each person, with a password sent via email to enable purchases from December. Tickets will then be released to the general public from mid-January.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer that the decision was primarily one of practicality.

The early release of tickets is the best way we can ensure that people in the organisation are able to attend the party, given that we don’t yet have an individual membership base, Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse also acknowledged concerns from the community about the loosening of restrictions on ticket purchases.

There’s a range of different views that I hear about how tightly we need to restrict access to party tickets, Woodhouse said. Pride parties have been operating on a less restricted system and I have heard excellent reports about the quality and the crowd at those events. To some extent 2003 will be a test for future years.

Although it was previously announced that tickets would go on sale on 13 December, Woodhouse told the Star that there would be a slight delay as public liability insurance contracts were yet to be finalised. Woodhouse dismissed concerns about recent rises in such insurance costs.

I’m not concerned at all -¦ We’re in discussion with insurers at the moment. And we believe that at this stage it will certainly be within our budget. We’ve put some generous budgets around public liability knowing what’s been going on over the last 18 months, he said.

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