Organisers of Sydney 2002 Gay Games are moving forward with renewed vigour this week, confident that they have averted a cash-flow crisis which threatened the viability of the Games.

Under a complex arrangement being brokered by community lawyer Peter Grogan, which is expected to be signed off within a couple of days, a consortium of respected community figures has come forward to help ensure the Games are a success. Effectively, these nine individuals will be providing the collateral for a $2million bank guarantee which will see the release of ticket revenue currently held by Ticketek.

Although the deal was still being finalised as Sydney Star Observer went to press last night, Grogan said he was confident that all parties would agree on terms. This will give Sydney 2002 access to part of the $2million by the end of the week.

The consortium of community elders includes Dawn O’Donnell, Bruce Pollack, John Marsden, Ewan Samway, Jenni Neary, Deirdre Mason, Mark Bailey, Richard Moore and Sydney 2002 co-chair Peter Bailey. It is expected that a number of these people will also be contributing extensively to the work of the organisation -“ Pollack will oversee a new mainstream Games publicity campaign, while a number of others will contribute their commercial expertise.

Bailey and co-chair Bev Lange told the Star that the deal would alleviate the pressure on the Gay Games board and give it the breathing space to be able to deal with other issues.

Yesterday, the board also released new, cheaper tickets to the Games opening ceremony on 2 November.

At a price of just $60, the new tickets would make the ceremony accessible to a broader cross-section of the community, Bailey said.

Bailey and Lange refused a Star request to release their latest budget for the Games, but admitted that the previous total ticket sales estimate of $9 million had been pruned back to a more moderate and conservative level.

Consortium member Bruce Pollack, who has extensive experience in event management and the arts, said the projected box office figures for Games events were realistic.

[The figures] have been gone over and gone over, and with the confidence instilled in the Games, they are realistic, Pollack said.

One event has already sold out (the Sunset Party on 3 November), while organisers are budgeting for around a 70 percent sell-out for the opening ceremony.

The last week has seen an extremely healthy surge in the number of tickets sold for the Black Party and Farewell, and these new opening ceremony seats will prove just as popular, Bailey said.

Lange scotched the suggestion that other Games events could be cut from the program.

One of the questions we were asked last week was whether we were going to cut events, and the answer to that is no, we’re not, she said.

The board also revealed that they would be pursuing a stronger media campaign to promote Gay Games events, particularly the opening ceremony, which they said was an event with strong mainstream appeal.

Games organisers also secured stronger support from key government tourism agencies and commercial stakeholders yesterday after a meeting was convened by NSW Tourism minister Sandra Nori.

I’m feeling very positive as a result of our discussion today, and I’m very pleased to see the indications are that [the Games] will go ahead, Nori told the Star.

The minister also said that she would be working closely with tourism bodies to ensure that ticket sales to key events such as the opening ceremony were maximised.

Opening ceremony ticket sales are set for a boost with the announcement that Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court will deliver the keynote address.

We are honoured that Justice Kirby, arguably the most high-profile gay man in Australia and one of the world’s most respected jurists, has agreed to make what promises to be a powerful and inspirational speech, Bailey said.

Although Justice Kirby would not be drawn on the content of his speech, he told the Star that he was looking forward to the event and his theme would be courage.

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