New Mardi Gras last week announced its key fundraiser, Sleaze Ball, will undergo a few changes this year: the Ball will move from the Hordern Pavilion to the Entertainment Quarter for 2010, utilising venues such as the Forum and Dome. Despite NMG’s long-standing booking with the Hordern and a history of having several days either side of Sleaze to ‘pack in’ and ‘pack out’ the event, the venue owners, Playbill, this year accepted a rival production taking place the following night at the same venue. On top of this, mounting costs associated with staging the event made the Hordern an increasingly unsustainable venue choice.
“Our hand was forced, we really didn’t have much of a choice. Using the Hordern again, chances were we’d probably break even. With the move, we saw the potential to make the event more successful, have cheaper tickets, and then make some profit on top of that,” New Mardi Gras co-chair Steph Sands told Sydney Star Observer.
“The figures were remarkable — we could drop prices down to $59 at the lowest, and still make five times the profit. That’s based on attendance figures like last year, which is feasible. It really is a win-win situation.”
Perhaps, but there has already been some dissent about the decision, including from within the New Mardi Gras board itself. In a letter to SSO, fellow New Mardi Gras board member Josh Keech said he did not vote for the venue change.
“The reaction has been mixed,” Sands admitted. “The board actually did debate whether we needed to go to consultation, and that was a long debate.
“The decision was based around asking — is this a significant change? Not having Sleaze at all, not having it on the same weekend, or moving it to a venue somewhere else in the city — any of those options would have been significant changes.
“But being on that Fox footprint, and having the familiarity of the Dome, isn’t that significant a change. The Dome is really the iconic Sleaze landmark.”

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