The man elected as New Mardi Gras’ first-ever solo chair has admitted the organisation must make difficult decisions if it is to survive.

Marcus Bourget became the 2005/ 2006 New Mardi Gras chair following a unanimous vote at the new board’s first meeting last Wednesday. At the same meeting Michael Rolik took on the role of treasurer.

The pair, who were both members of the 2004/ 2005 board, will work under a new leadership structure that for the first time since New Mardi Gras’ creation in 2002 does not include a female co-chair.

Bourget told Sydney Star Observer the decision to elect a single chair this year followed the introduction of a smaller New Mardi Gras board.

At the 2004 New Mardi Gras annual general meeting, members voted to reduce the board to eight positions as of 2005-2006, with an increased focus on corporate governance.

We felt that, moving from [last year’s] board of 10 to eight, having a single leader this year would be more flexible, Bourget said.

He rejected suggestions a solo male chair meant New Mardi Gras would inadequately represent female community members.

We have an incredible array of very talented, strong and effective women in the organisation, both at a board level through to our general manager, Anna McInerney, right down to our working groups, Bourget said. Three women are on the current New Mardi Gras board.

More pressing was New Mardi Gras’ financial situation.

That issue would be the new board’s priority in the wake of a $304,000 loss on the 2005 season.

Turning around the fortunes of the organisation is definitely uppermost in everybody’s mind, Bourget said.

Difficult decisions have to be made to ensure the survival [of New Mardi Gras].

Asked to specify which decisions the board had in mind, Bourget said the merger of Fair Day and Launch in 2006 -“ reported in the Star last month as a potential cost-saver -“ was one option.

Restricting the Mardi Gras party to members -“ which could reduce the organisation’s tax obligations -“ was also under consideration.

But the board had yet to make any final decision about these strategies.

New Mardi Gras’ budget for the 2006 season is expected to be finalised by the end of July, Bourget said.

Certainly we hope to have everything finished well before the end of this month.

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