New Mardi Gras (NMG) has vowed to hold mass community consultations on every facet of the parade’s future — including its funding.

At the close of this season, NMG will invite debate upon itself in an attempt to reach consensus on the parade’s political and artistic purpose, its composition and its funding.
NMG members and non-members alike will be invited to take part in the process which will result in a defining mission statement for the parade.

The move follows ongoing debate over decisions to include corporate floats over other groups who were deemed ‘not gay enough’ to be involved.

“We have a real opportunity to have a debate about the parade: its purpose, its composition and how it’s funded,” NMG CEO Michael Rolik told Sydney Star Observer.

“The question for us is, ‘Should Mardi Gras be a vehicle for a number of political bodies or anyone with a message to get out there?’

“The closest thing our parade entry criteria reflect is our constitution, which is essentially about gay pride and celebration.

“Questions to look at in the future though may include what kind of parade does the community want? Is it about gay pride? Or a broader agenda of sexual and other freedoms?

“How much weight do we give to creativity and enthusiasm over matters of sexual identity?”
Rolik said the list of questions would be far-reaching with no boundaries.

“Given the choice, would we prefer a parade that didn’t care about your sexuality as long as you were marching in support of pride? Or is it a parade full of gay people with messages about all different sorts of causes?” he said.

“We’d like to work towards a clear statement about the parade’s objectives and values, to ensure the parade’s future and give people overall what they want.

“Once the season’s over, the board and I will set out a process for consultation, which we want to engage the whole community in — not just certain elements of it — with the aim of putting that vision forward to our members to approve.”

Rolik said the logistics of setting up such a consultation procedure — which would need to be much larger than the usual post-season membership feedback surveys — would not be finalised until after NMG has completed its season debriefing process.

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