New Mardi Gras finally came clean last night about the reasons it decided to split the 2010 parade and party over two weekends.
Confirming the worst kept secret on Oxford St, Steph Sands fronted last night’s annual general meeting question session in the absence of outgoing chair David Imrie to confirm what many had long been aware of -” the organisation -˜made a mistake’.
I’m just going to speak really honestly about what happened because there was a big chain of events, Sands told the 80-strong crowd.
It came to the board’s attention in February that there had been a scheduling error.
It was a genuine mistake. We had signed contracts and the board takes full accountability for the fact that we did not have the appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure those contracts married off against each other. And it was a genuine mistake.
So what we did was we acted responsibly and did what any board would do -” we went and looked at lots of different options that were available to us around the dates that we secured.
So we looked at lots of options. We looked at whether or not we could have an event after the parade. We looked at what it was cost to break the contract with (Entertainment Quarter lessee) Playbill, and we went down lots of different avenues. And then we did send out a survey to our members. We asked lots of questions.
The crowd erupted into dissent, with the majority claiming they had not received any communication from the board or New Mardi Gras seeking input about the possibility of the split.
Members decried the organisation’s decision to put a PR spin on the error rather than come clean about the mistake.
Mardi Gras put this idea out there as a new idea -” there was no admission of a cock-up, member Tim Young told the meeting.
The cock-up was not admitted – in fact it was strenuously denied by Mardi Gras.
Sands told the crowd at the five-hour meeting the board canvassed a number of options before settling on the parade/party split.

The board sat down and we worked out the best way forward – and we acted really responsibly. But instead of saying we made a mistake and put the sponsorship agreements in jeopardy or at risk we sold the benefits of a different type of season,” she said.
We had an agreed communications plan about what the benefits of the season were going to be.
I can’t go into how the mistakes were made because of commercial in confidence, but I can say the board takes full accountability for not checking thoroughly

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