Queer Screen Limited recorded a loss of $57,817 for the 2002/2003 financial year, with a tight festival now promised for 2004.

While we’re still going to have a broad range of gay and lesbian films, we’re going to have to make sure that costs are kept very tightly in control, newly elected Queer Screen president Robert Judd told Sydney Star Observer.

The organisation’s financial report noted that if Queer Screen incurs another significant loss during the 2003/2004 financial year, a curtailment of the 2005 Mardi Gras Film Festival and the scope of Queer Screen’s other activities will be required.

The report blames the loss on a decrease in ticket sales following the 2002 Gay Games as well as uncertainty from audiences after the collapse of the now defunct Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG).

A large proportion of the loss was also credited to extraordinary items unlikely to be repeated, which included the writing off of a bad debt from SGLMG ($5,909); wage costs to the amount of $6,667 from the previous financial year being accrued late; and an error in processing of some 2001/02 financial year invoices to the amount of $18,293.

Judd said the errors were due to entries which were incorrectly booked onto the system which the audit process had not picked up. Wage costs were also attributed by Judd to an accounting error. Judd said the correction of financial errors was the result of the diligence of former general manager of Queer Screen Mary Stielow, who was praised for running a very good finance operation.

Queer Screen had previously received substantial funding from SGLMG, providing an estimated $500,000 over 10 years. Such funding ended with SGLMG’s collapse in September 2002. The then president of Queer Screen Pip Newling told Sydney Star Observer in July 2002 that Queer Screen was now run as a separate entity and could survive without Mardi Gras funding due to good financial management.

Judd was confident Queer Screen would endure. I think with further cost-cutting we can get to a level where we can survive. I think there’s quite a few avenues that we haven’t explored yet. And we also have enough reserves to go on with, Judd said.

Such changes include the outsourcing of sponsorship-raising to a professional company and looking at our accommodation, he said.

Former Queer Screen executive officer Richard King said he was confident the organisation would survive. King blamed the loss on what he saw as a series of unfortunate circumstances, including the closure of the Roxy Theatre at Parramatta and the subsequent cancellation of Queer Screen events in the western suburbs.

The Mardi Gras grant has enabled Queer Screen to do a lot more than other film festivals its size because you can never make that much money from ticket sales in the whole scheme of things, King told the Star. And sponsorship’s become a lot more difficult. In the time that I was there, finding sponsorship became more difficult with each year.

It just needs to reinvent itself in some way, King told the Star. He praised the organisation’s increase in membership and creative fundraising events, such as special screenings of films including Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Judd said it was a sensitive time for Queer Screen. I think we’ve done very well to get through this year, he said. We’ve had quite a few events, about one every month. We’ve been very active and we’ve got a strong following. All our smaller events have been profitable. We’re running quite a tight ship now, he said.

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