New Mardi Gras chair David Imrie has stood down and will not seek re-election at the AGM in August.
The decision comes eight weeks after Imrie and New Mardi Gras faced a barrage of criticism for deciding to split the 2010 party and parade over two weekends.
In a written statement to JOY FM’s Doug Pollard, Imrie said he no longer had time to chair the organisation.
-œ[I] have not resigned but I am not restanding at the AGM, the statement read.
-œI had taken a year off work to do the Mardi Gras thing and went back to work in May.
-œAm also about to start my MBA program. So not enough time! I always said I would give it one year.
Imrie was elected chair in May last year after the resignation of Marcus Bourget, who spent three years leading the re-birthed organisation.
As chair he has presided over two of the organisation’s most poorly received decisions. In October last year Sydney Star Observer revealed New Mardi Gras was reviewing its financial relationship with the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation for the parade Glamstand – BGF’s single largest fundraiser.
-œIt’s not commercially viable for NMG to continue to license the raised seating to any external organisations and we’re looking at other potential fundraising partnerships between NMG and BGF, Imrie said at the time.
-œWe would like to think the public won’t react badly to the change in our business relationship with BGF. We hope they can see that the best thing we can do for ourselves, our members, and the broader GLBTQ community is refine our business model so we are there forever more to support BGF and all the other organisations we support financially.
The decision was condemned community-wide, attracting a record number of comments on SSO’s forum.
-œThis sounds suss to me! NMG sees how successful the event is in raising money for BGF and now it wants to take it for themselves! They talk of long-term viability like it is under a cloud, despite the NSW Government decision to fund the event! Leave Glamstand to BGF and concentrate on improving the quality of the parade and festival! one poster wrote.
Eventually the two organisations agreed to work together to operate Glamstand. The agreement was reached after two months of negotiations after BGF claimed NMG had threatened to cancel the charity’s licence for Glamstand.
In May this year Imrie announced New Mardi Gras would be splitting the parade and party across two weekends in 2010.
The announcement created a buzz of community speculation and a massive amount of condemnation, including more than 120 comments on the SSO forum.
-œYou’ve got to be bloody joking? Sounds like Mardi Gras is desperate to make that lame duck Harbour Party profitable – but are they prepared to do it at the expense of the official party – which is the only thing that makes money for them? Let’s hope this gamble pays off – or we might not have a Mardi Gras again -¦ one poster added to the forum.
-œThis may well be the most ill-informed and thoughtless decision made by any Mardi Gras Board to date! They are making a disastrous mistake, and it will have a far reaching and negative affect in regards to tourism numbers associated the Mardi Gras event both International and Domestic, another added.
Former Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras chair Richard Cobden speculated the change was driven by something other than forward thinking.
-œI received credible information some 6 weeks ago that this change was driven by an agreement with the Atlantis people which obliged NMG to move the Parade to the last Saturday in February, while the standing booking for the RHI/Hordern is the first Saturday in March, he posted on the SSO forum.
-œApparently an attempt was made by NMG to move the Party date to the Parade date but Playbill (who control the Showground/Fox venues) rejected it on the basis that the venue was booked for the Gift Fair. In other words, the separated dates were the result of a combination of an undisclosed commercial obligation and a plain and simple oversight.
-œAny suggestion that it is by design is an ex post facto attempt to cover up.
Imrie promised a new party after the 2010 parade, but as yet details of that event have not been announced.
Nominations for the New Mardi Gras board closed at 5pm on Wednesday. SSO understands there are more nominees than board positions, which means members will get the chance to vote.