With a fresh New Mardi Gras board elected on the weekend, the organisation’s outgoing co-chairs have urged new directors to consider radical strategies to ensure financial survival.

The incoming group of directors includes only three members of the 2004/ 2005 board, Marcus Bourget, Diane Minnis and Michael Rolik, following an election at the New Mardi Gras annual general meeting last Saturday.

The remaining members of the eight-position board are 2003/ 2004 board member Scott Carn, alongside Fiona Doherty, Kirk Muddle, Susan Page and Glen Upton.

The new board, elected for a one-year term, was due to hold its first meeting and elect incoming co-chairs last night as the Star went to press.

The board’s election followed the late withdrawal from the vote of 2004/ 2005 New Mardi Gras co-chair Steph Sands.

Sands, who said she didn’t run because I didn’t think I could give it all the energy those [board] positions needed, implored incoming directors to consider drastic action.

I am urging the new board not to be afraid to make decisions, even on a temporary basis for next year, that will enable the organisation to survive, Sands told the annual general meeting prior to the board vote.

This may mean cancelling Launch and Fair Day, and just keeping Sleaze, the parade and the party.

This organisation may, or I might even say will, need to experience a little pain in order to grow strong once again.

Sands also told the meeting the outgoing board had experienced disunity.

This new board needs cohesiveness, it needs unity. Without that it’s not going to function, she later told Sydney Star Observer.

Sands’s speech preceded co-chair Mark Orr’s treasurer’s report, which gave details of New Mardi Gras’ more than $300,000 season loss for 2005.

These included a $43,000 loss on Launch, up from a $14,500 loss in 2004, and a $59,000 deficit for Fair Day, where last year’s event took about $25,000.

But the parade this year lost less than the 2004 event, and party takings, at $604,000, were only marginally down on last year.

Orr also gave details of the $304,000 New Mardi Gras spent on the previously unspecified other expenses from ordinary activities.

These expenses included $124,000 on administration, $40,000 on workshops and nearly $22,000 on bad and doubtful debts.

In outlining the 2005 financial loss, Orr admitted: I don’t think we’ve been as efficient in terms of purchasing some of the items and services that we have, as we could have been.

He said New Mardi Gras should consider different financial strategies, including less reliance on party revenue.

This would be a departure from past financial policy, which has prioritised parties as sources of revenue, Orr said.

Orr also proposed an updated membership program as another way to build New Mardi Gras’ income.

One of the things the outgoing board [looked at] is how to develop our membership program to better engage people, Orr told the meeting.

We’ve got to look at what value being part of New Mardi Gras gives to somebody -¦ and particularly how we engage younger people.

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