A community-style market aimed at reinvigorating the commercial viability of Oxford St and Darlinghurst will be trialled as part of this year’s Mardi Gras festival.

The Darlinghurst Business Partnership (DBP) will launch the market on February 28 under the theme So Gay Saturday. If successful the markets will become a monthly fixture.

The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, ACON and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association have all signed up for stalls, as have several local businesses and local art schools.

DBP president Andrew Duckmanton said the event would not only help fill the void on the Mardi Gras calendar left by the defunct Shop Yourself Stupid, but create an ongoing attraction to bring shoppers back to the area.

The area has been left alone a bit, but we want to re-invigorate it. We’re trying to make something that works with the main street, that creates some really good activity, that also makes Taylor Square a little bit more than a begging palace, he told Sydney Star Observer.

We’re keen to take advantage of the people who come into Sydney for Mardi Gras. Last year it was almost like Darlinghurst had its skirts down. We were a bit sombre and we certainly weren’t showing off what is Sydney’s most renowned event.

Overseas people know about bushfires and Mardi Gras so we need to get the area to really lift its skirts, have fun and show what we’re about -” which is an important role the community can provide to Mardi Gras.

The initiative has support from the City of Sydney which has waived ordinary street trading and rental costs to foster the event.

The DBP will pay for trestles and equipment to make the event affordable for businesses. An ongoing arrangement for not-for-profit and community organisations has been guaranteed to ensure the market remains locally minded.

We want to make sure these remain community markets and that some commercial operator doesn’t come in, Duckmanton said.

The Paddington Markets have moved away from their original charter, I feel, and have become a sort of tourist destination. Ours is going to be very much about keeping the community completely engaged.

info: Community organisations and businesses interested in taking a stall, or entertainers who want to take part can phone Andrew Duckmanton on 0417 340 003.

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