Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) CEO Michael Rolik this week announced he will not seek renewal of his contract, and will leave the role on August 17.

Rolik, who came on board as CEO only a few months before the 2010 festival, told the Star Observer he was conscious that he needed to step aside with enough time for his replacement to properly plan for next year’s season.

He insisted that a three-year stint as CEO had been his initial vision when takin on the role, and said his decision to leave was largely due to the toll the position had taken on his personal life.

“It’s a big, challenging role that takes a lot of energy and personal time,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the next challenge, hopefully with a little less intensity. It’s a personal choice about lifestyle as much as anything.”

Rolik said, in his three-year tenure as CEO, he’d moved Mardi Gras towards more community interaction via public forums and canvassing about everything from party entertainment to parade floats.

“I’m really proud of making Mardi Gras more outward-focused, and having a focus on the artistic integrity of our events has been important.

“In the last 12 months in particular, our entertainment, particularly in the parties, has been much more reflective of the diverse tastes of our community. We saw a lot more participation from women and from youth in these events, and that’s the way we need to continue.”

Mardi Gras posted losses in 2010 and 2011, with financial results from this year’s festival yet to be released. Rolik wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not Mardi Gras’ ongoing financial difficulties influenced his decision to step down.

He conceded that the festival operates in “a really tricky operating environment — it’s very competitive out there and there are so many different events and choices for people. I look at our audiences and there’s so much potential to get more of the youth involved”.

The search for a suitable replacement has started, and the organisation is aiming to fill the role by July in order to effect a full handover.

“It goes without saying that I am sad to see Michael go and feel his talents will be a loss for the organisation,” Mardi Gras chairman Peter Urmson said earlier this week.

“His commitment to not only SGLMG but also to the wider community has been unparalleled within and outside of our organisation.”

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