The board of New Mardi Gras announced on Tuesday that NSW Police and South Sydney Council (SSC) have assured their on-going support for a Mardi Gras parade next year.

The board will now seek community input on what the parade should look like and how it should be run, and will accept expressions of interest from people wanting to be part of a New Mardi Gras parade committee at an open parade forum planned for 28 September.

According to New Mardi Gras director Michael Wood-house, the police and council support means the parade is effectively booked for 1 March 2003.

Police have assured us that the help we have had in past years will continue, which essentially involves securing the parade on 1 March, Wood-house told Sydney Star Observer.

South Sydney Council will also continue with their support, which involves a mix of barricade costs and the cost of cleaning up after the parade.

The new board are currently in negotiations with the NSW state government with the view to securing user-pays exemptions on the parade route from Museum Station to Fox Studios.

Mardi Gras is recognised as a hallmark event under state legislation and therefore is deserving of user-pays exemptions, if of course it is run by a not-for-profit organisation, which it is, Woodhouse said. However, securing written confirmation on that deal is traditionally something that comes through at the 11th hour.

Woodhouse could not confirm this week whether the new board would enter a new Deed of Company Arrange-ment with administrators Sims Lockwood, purchase assets through liquidation, or do nothing and just build something new from scratch.

Either way, we will need money to build it up. We would prefer to purchase key assets of old Mardi Gras if we can afford to, Woodhouse said, adding that community donations were still only trickling in.

I understand we have had a small number of donations so far, but obviously we need a lot more, Woodhouse said. Donated funds are vital to securing key assets and we only have four weeks to raise the money for this.

New Mardi Gras are inviting those interested in contributing ideas to the 2003 parade to come to the 28 September forum, which will take place at Petersham’s Metropolitan Com-munity Church from 2pm.

We have invited people who have been involved in the past, but we also want new faces, Woodhouse said. A New Mardi Gras parade committee will be formed after the forum to progress the ideas discussed.

New Mardi Gras are calling for donations via the AIDS Trust Mardi Gras Fund or by calling 9206 2073 during business hours.

 

Michael Woodhouse is a director of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Community Publishing Ltd, publishers of Sydney Star Observer.

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