New Mardi Gras (NMG) secured the future of Mardi Gras’ 2003 season this week, after winning a hard-fought campaign to raise $150,000 needed to meet an initial payment to administrators.

The payment to administrators Sims Lockwood, which had to be met within 28 days in accordance with the agreed Deed of Company Arrange-ment (DCA), officially secures community ownership of key Mardi Gras assets including trademarks, membership lists and the Mardi Gras website.

According to NMG co-chair Michael Woodhouse, Mon-day’s cash handover to administrators marks the passing of NMG’s toughest test in meeting a series of staged payments totalling $349,000 between now and March 2004.

In many ways this payment was absolutely the biggest trial. This was our first hurdle and we had to prove to a lot of people out there that New Mardi Gras could actually pull this off, Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer on Tuesday.

Woodhouse said that future payments, which include $70,000 in April next year and another $70,000 next November, will be easier to meet because they fall after next year’s Mardi Gras season at times when we’re likely to have income.

NMG will now shift its focus away from administrator’s payments and towards a further gruelling fundraising deadline -“ this time to raise $200,000 for Mardi Gras’ silver anniversary parade on 1 March 2003.

The 2003 parade is the 25th year of Mardi Gras and it’s also going to be a celebration of the fact that the community has taken the opportunity to re-invent this event for the future. This is a triumph for the community and a parade everyone needs to be a part of, Woodhouse said.

NMG is now seeking to continue relationships with community businesses that have come forward to help the fledgling organisation, and will seek out further corporate sponsorship in coming months.

Obviously the challenge for any organisation that hosts events is to have money up-front. We need to know that we can pay the bills that need to be paid before we start getting things like ticket revenue back in, so the $200,000 we’re now focusing on is what we consider we need to ensure that we put on a good parade next year, Woodhouse said.

NMG will also seek further assistance from venues in the form of benefit nights, and work with community groups who have come forward to offer assistance with fund-raising drives for the 2003 season.

Whether those [initiatives] generate $1,000 or $10,000 it’s fantastic -“ it’s the way we will actually get over the line at the end of the day.

Donations to NMG can be made out to the AIDS Trust of Australia Mardi Gras Fund, or call 9206 2073 for information.

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