New Mardi Gras must merge with the Pride organisation or one of the groups will collapse, ex-New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse said this week.

If we as a community do nothing, at least one of our organisations will fail. If it is Pride, it will go with a whimper and not with a bang. If it is Mardi Gras, I am not sure that there will be enough people to save it for a second time, Woodhouse said.

In short, I think we are now faced with a need to merge, or die.

Woodhouse made the plea to New Mardi Gras members in his farewell speech at the organisation’s annual general meeting on the weekend. He urged the new board to commence discussions with Pride immediately.

Over recent years, Pride has been forced to use longstanding reserves of community fund-raised money to maintain its operations. Mardi Gras continues to be faced with a lack of working capital and forced to manage the same abominable cashflow problem that killed the old organisation, Woodhouse said.

Pride co-president Lou-Anne Lind told Sydney Star Observer she would discuss the possibility of a merger with Mardi Gras, but would not make any decision without consultation with the community and the Pride committee.

The reality is I’m not prepared to make any major decision with regards to Pride’s future without at least talking to my members -¦ Lind said.

I’m certainly not opposed to ensuring Pride’s survival in any way I can, but I’m committed to doing that in a collaborative way, she said.

Lind added a merger between the two groups had been touted since she became co-president in 1999. New Mardi Gras officially joined other key organisations in helping present Pride Week in 2003.

Pride posted a $130,000 loss in the 2002/2003 financial year, and Lind told the Star the group would also make a significant loss during 2003/2004. Lind said a key difference between Pride and New Mardi Gras was Pride’s significant cash reserves, which have ensured the group’s survival.

New Mardi Gras announced a profit at the AGM of $123,181 for the 2003/2004 financial year. Profits could be decimated, however, if the organisation was found to be eligible to pay full income tax.

Woodhouse told the Star that New Mardi Gras’ cashflow problems could be solved by a merger.
Board member Steph Sands told the Star she had spoken with Lind but at present there is no commitment to doing anything other than talking.

Saturday’s New Mardi Gras AGM saw the election of seven new board members.

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