The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust (RBGT) announced this week that Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been awarded the contract for the Harbour Party in 2003.

Although all groups concerned were quick to congratulate Mardi Gras on winning the bid, concerns have been raised about the effect this will have on the funding of The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

For the past five years the Lobby has been reliant on funding provided by First Fleet Productions producers of the Harbour Party.

Lobby co-convenor Alex Sosnov told the Star that the Lobby’s next step would be negotiating with Mardi Gras to find out how much money they would receive in future. It’s critical for us, she said. There are lots of elements of the Lobby which we only set up because of Harbour Party fundraising, which are now fundamental.

Kelly Gardiner, Mardi Gras CEO, said that they had met with the Lobby weeks before the decision was made, when the Harbour Party situation was discussed in detail.

We told them that when we know whether we’ve got it or not, we’ll talk to you about what that means for the relationship with the Lobby and the funding for the Lobby -¦ she explained.

Our intention is that there would be a transparent process around where the money goes within the community and so we’ll be putting [it] into the Community Development Fund or possibly the Public Donations Fund.

Gardiner added that the Lobby was welcome to apply for grants through these funds. We may decide that it’s so important to fund the Lobby that we have to set up a different process, said Gardiner. But that also needs to be a transparent process that we go through.

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