Final touches are being put on a deal that will see this year’s Mardi Gras party broadcast across the country via national youth radio station Triple J.

The agreement will include live broadcasts from the party site at Fox Studios and a series of programs and talkback sessions focusing on gay and lesbian issues that will be aired over the next few weeks.

According to Mardi Gras president Julie Regan, the initiative will have important outcomes for the community in terms of increasing Mardi Gras’ reach to gay and lesbian youth, to people in regional areas, and expanding the coverage of Mardi Gras’ arts program.

It is definitely an initiative to reach out to gay and lesbian youth, but there is also a bigger picture to this, involving the expansion of Mardi Gras’ applicability to gay and lesbian people across the country and particularly in isolated areas, Regan told Sydney Star Observer.

We would like this deal to translate to an increase in awareness about the issues that gay and lesbian youth face, but also we hope it will act as a support for those young people who need information and support on what they are going through.

According to the assistant programming director at Triple J Rob Scott, the station had been planning an agreement to broadcast the party with Mardi Gras for a number of years.

It is about access. The fact is we are a national network and we should be able to bring one of the biggest parties on the social calendar to our audience, Scott told the Star.

Triple J manages to establish its reputation as being at the forefront of covering the important social and cultural issues of our time and if you look at the history of Mardi Gras, we’ve gone from a parade highlighting injustices through to a celebration of culture and humanity. I feel Triple J needs to play a part in that.

So far, two guest performers have been confirmed for the 2002 Mardi Gras party. Organisers have announced that Canadian soul singer Deborah Cox will perform at the event. Cox has gained prominence through her hit R&B single Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here and her current club favourite Absolutely Not.

In an interview with the Star to be published next week, Swedish pop group Alcazar also confirm that they will be performing at the party. Alcazar’s single Crying At The Discoteque is presently enjoying success in the ARIA singles chart. Other rumours yet to be confirmed point to an appearance by Olivia Newton John.

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