Dance party organisers are facing an uphill battle in staging their events in the wake of the financial failure of Sydney 2002 Gay Games and Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG).

Pride and New Mardi Gras have been asked to provide cash upfront in their preparations for events, with businesses expressing a lack of confidence in gay and lesbian organisations.

We have a very good credit rating with most of our suppliers. This year a few of them are starting to baulk -“ ones who have lost money through Mardi Gras and through the Gay Games, Pride co-convenor Chris Maynard told Sydney Star Observer.

They are beginning to say, well, we don’t really trust anyone in our community any longer, and walking away from gay and lesbian events altogether.

Maynard said it was also more difficult to receive discounted rates from suppliers.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse agreed business confidence in gay and lesbian events had waned.

Certainly there’s a relatively small pool of suppliers that are dealing with events of this kind. Many of them have been suppliers to the Gay Games as well as to the former organisation [SGLMG] and some of those people feel as though they’ve been burnt by those organisations, Woodhouse said.

That obviously makes it that much harder for us when we’re trying to negotiate contracts for next March.

Pride co-convenor Lou-Ann Lind said difficulties with cashflow were exacerbated by the rising trend of late ticket purchasing. The 2002 Sleaze Ball, which raised funds for both Pride and SGLMG, did not break even until the morning of the event.

Maynard said ticket sales for Pride New Year’s Eve party were down on last year but going fairly well.

We predicted that this trend would happen, he said. With the Gay Games we knew that it would be a tighter year than usual. A lot of the sales won’t happen until the last week before the party. It makes it a little bit nail-biting, but the trend is there that it’ll pick up quite rapidly in the days leading up to the party.

Lind stressed that over the past three years Pride had taken a very conservative approach to spending.

The Star reported last week that DJs were among those owed money by Sydney 2002 Gay Games, but both Pride and New Mardi Gras representatives said DJs were enthusiastic about their respective events.

I suppose Pride has been really lucky in that we’ve always engaged really good DJs who are really committed to what our centre does, Lind said. We had a DJ briefing yesterday and I’m pleased to say that the DJs actually didn’t raise this as an issue. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they did, but they didn’t.

So I believe they have confidence in us being able to meet our obligations. That was certainly very reassuring, particularly because these are community-based DJs.

The perception that gay and lesbian events organisers were a financial risk had widened, Maynard said.

He pointed to an opinion piece in last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph by Leo Schofield. [It] seems pretty evident the gay and lesbian community couldn’t organise a chook raffle -¦ many small businesses and self-employed individuals have been badly hurt, Schofield wrote.

Maynard said Schofield’s comments had inflamed the situation.

This sort of thing is out there in the wider community. People are aware of it and articles like his make it more difficult for us as well, he said.

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