New Mardi Gras (NMG) has extended its deadline for participation in the 2012 Mardi Gras Festival with applications for groups, artists and individuals now open until October 31.

Festival programmer Sam Sweedman told the Star Observer that while the 50 or so applications received so far were impressive, NMG wanted to give as diverse a field as possible time to submit their forms.

“We want to represent as much of the community as possible and the festival is a great way of showcasing that,” Sweedman said. “We wanted to give people who may have participated in the past a chance to get involved again.

“We’d love to see more women getting involved and more than just the G in LGBTI so everyone is represented. This is a great opportunity for the community and if you want to see something in the festival then why not put something in yourself.”

Eighty events ran in last year’s festival and audiences can expect a number of changes in 2012.

The 2012 festival will run for three weeks instead of two and will be broken into three streams of activities.

Sweedman said the extra week would give festival-goers a better chance to enjoy the range of events.

“There’s a community stream, a cultural stream and an events tourism stream for visiting audiences who might prefer just to go to parties,” he said.

Organisers are also looking to broaden the scope of the festival by extending events outside of inner Sydney.

“We’ll be having a program at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta and we’re looking at programming in the Blue Mountains and on the Central Coast,” Sweedman said.

Applications so far have included performance and visual arts-based events and a greater array of applications representing cultural and ethnic groups than in past years.

The Queer Thinking program, now in its third year, in which academics, community groups and outspoken individuals come together for a daylong festival discussing ideas will also return in 2012.

INFO: Application forms are at www.mardigras.org.au/getinvolved

By ALEX PITTAWAY

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