A plethora of community issues was raised at the second general meeting to discuss Mardi Gras’ financial situation, held last Saturday.

The meeting, which drew about 60 members of the organisation, canvassed the problems that have beset not just Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but Sydney’s lesbian and gay community in general.

In no particular order, the issues included: youth engagement with Mardi Gras; competition for fundraising dollars; what was to be retained and what was to be jettisoned for the 2003 festival; the interaction between Pride and Mardi Gras; the electoral processes of Mardi Gras; the accountability of the board; membership services; and so on.

Mardi Gras president Julie Regan told Sydney Star Observer that the meeting was a great opportunity for people to come along and express views that they have about Mardi Gras, and how Mardi Gras is working with the community.

The format of the meeting (individuals were asked to convene groups around issues they thought were important) aimed to encourage people to take the running on issues, Regan said. Reports from each group convened would be posted on the Mardi Gras website shortly, she added.

Obviously the organisation is at a point at the moment where it really needs to re-focus. The views expressed on Saturday will enable the board to look at that, Regan said. There is a need for the organisation to look very definitely at what it does and these forums provide information and ideas on how to do that.

Saturday’s meeting also provided Regan with an opportunity to inform members that Mardi Gras’ bank had approved the organisation’s overdraft, after consultation with the consortium of five guarantors who stepped in to save the organisation.

We’re signing off on all of that at the moment, she said. That was a great sigh of relief for everybody last week. We now have to go forward and re-look at the budgets.

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