Melbourne’s largest queer arts and cultural festival, Midsumma, has posted a $8445 loss for the last financial year.

At its annual general meeting last week it was reported the deficit took in expenses carried over from 2010.

Midsumma chair Lisa Watts told the Star Observer the move to Birrarung Marr was the main reason for the downturn.

“We did a lot of number crunching because we knew it was going to cost a lot more to go there and we also knew we didn’t have a lot of avenues to minimise additional costs,” Watts said.

“So in some ways we were actually quite relieved the outcome was as it was. Now it’ll just be about fine tuning.”

Watts said despite the festival’s results this year, it’s likely Carnival Day will remain in its new home. “We are so much more relieved and confident [about future festivals at Birrarung Marr],” Watts said.

“We know now how we work in that space. Now we’ve done one festival there, we can figure out ways to get a better outcome. If we didn’t have some of those costs from the previous festival that were still hanging around, we would have probably have a pretty good outcome over all.” Both income and expenditure were up on last year.

Carnival Day donations — down by 20 percent this year — and an increase in marketing expenses with the launch of a new website were also pointed to as contributing to the downturn.

Coffers were boosted this year from proceeds from the T Dance bar, which the festival ran. Watts said past profit-sharing with commercial bar operators on Carnival Day had not proven financially successful and the board would now consider using Midsumma-run bar sales to boost the future bottom line.

“We’ve always gone into [bar profit-sharing] hoping for a good outcome but … we’ve hardly ever had a case where a bar operator has said, ‘Great, there’s heaps of money and here’s your half’, ” Watts said. “Usually it’s the opposite.

“It’s a poor outcome for us when we’ve got, for the first time, the experience of running our own bar… [and] we made a good little surplus.”

Midsumma CEO Adam Lowe has signalled the festival will move into a new phase in the next three years with a shift towards online marketing campaigns.This year performers Luke Gallagher and Kaye Sera were awarded Midsumma life memberships.

Carnival Day 2012 is on Sunday, January 15. Early-bird discounts for stallholders are available until August 21.


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