The highlight of the drag calendar, the annual Sydney drag awards, will live on this year.

Avid Events Limited has taken on the drag night of nights, formerly the Drag Industry Variety Awards, and will deliver a new format to the awards evening and a fresh set of faces at the helm of the drag extravaganza.

It is still unclear what happened to the previous DIVA Awards organisation.

A letter in tomorrow’s Sydney Star Observer from past board members indicates the organisation is broke and unable to continue trading.

DIVA, the company, is being wound up, the board is dismantled, and the longstanding traditions lost, all without the due respect and historic acknowledgement it deserves, the letter states.

The history of DIVA traces the rise of Sydney’s drag entertainment culture and has catapulted many of our homegrown stars into the larger commercial spotlight. It has created generations of well-known performers and cemented its position in the cultural identity of Oxford St, with its annual all-night drag fest. (A party that took days to complete by many of its devotees.)

A new company has begun called Diva Awards Australia (with no affiliation to the Drag Industry Variety Awards) and a new event will launch later this year, headed by two energetic and dedicated drag identities.

This event will ensure some of the spirit of the original Drag Industry Variety Awards continues, however, the end of DIVA means a colourful piece of gay Sydney has been lost forever.

Co-chairs of the new organisation, local drag socialite Sheila Blige (Greg Steele) and showgirl Shelley Legs Diamond (Dejay Toborek), today confirmed the new awards night will be held on Monday, October 26.

The new not-for-profit company continues the legacy of the previous industry awards night, providing a night of celebration for the industry that everyone is invited to come and enjoy, Sheila Blige said.

The new organisation will promote, support, advocate and provide a lasting legacy for the drag community, all while raising funds for charity.

The new format for the night is designed to secure the company during the difficult economic times.

We have really listened to the showgirls about the future direction of the awards night, Shelley Legs Diamond said.

There are exciting changes to the format which will provide a very social evening that we know the showgirls, their friends and admirers will enjoy.

The co-chairs are joined by Belinda McKeon, who brings a strong design and marketing background to the team, Tim Wotherspoon, who has previously served as a DIVA judge, and, returning to support the event, founding member of the DIVAs, David Wilkins (Dot Dingle).

Not only is there is a great mix of experience and talent on the board, but we are excited as we welcome David Wilkins, one of the original founders of the previous industry awards night, back to help make this night of nights the most memorable ever, Sheila Blige said.

Wilkins said he was pleased to be lending his expertise to the event and working with the new team on the necessary rethink and fresh approach of the big night. It’s going to be great.

Planning for this year’s event is underway, with a number of smaller drag events also pencilled in to the calendar before the new awards ceremony.

Look out for our special fundraising nights in the coming months in the lead-up to the main event, the always colourful and fabulous industry awards night, Shelley Legs Diamond said.

We invite all the admirers and supporters of drag to head out to see the world-class shows and performers we have in this city and get ready to vote in numbers on voting day, Saturday October 24.

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