Party and parade to be reunited in 2011

New Mardi Gras (NMG) is expected to rejoin the parade and party for season 2011 after it announced a minimum loss of $400K at Sunday’s extraordinary general meeting.

About 60 people gathered at NIDA rehearsal space to dissect season 2010 which saw the parade and party split over two weekends following an administration error discovered in January 2009, but not made public for five more months.

At the same meeting, a motion to not sign the company’s intellectual property rights over to a new body was lost, forcing the board to go back to the drawing board and bring a new plan to the annual general meeting later this year.

But it was season 2010 and the impact of the parade and party split that fired up most at the three-hour meeting.

NMG co-chair Nick Parker told the membership the organisation would post a loss of around $400K for the season, about 25 percent of the company’s financial reserves.

“We are doing our audit at the moment, but we will post a considerable loss,” he said.

“This is the rainy day we have been preparing for. The reserves were in place, the organisation is financially secure, but the season has not been a financial success.”

NMG CEO Michael Rolik said it was clear the splitting of party and parade over two weekends had not been a success and that the events should be rejoined in 2011. He said 11,300 tickets were sold to the party.

“Our biggest fear was that ticket sales were sluggish,” Rolik said.

“Producing the party in-house helped reduce production costs.

“But the message is clear — the party/parade split had a drastic impact on revenue … we must put the events together once more.”

As well as the financial loss, the NMG board faced questioning over the change to the parade starting area; the decision not to allow the Animal Liberation float into the parade; the cost of the Spencer Tunick photo shoot and the decision to again screen the parade on Foxtel rather than a free-to-air channel.

As reported in Sydney Star Observer last week a spokesman for the ’78ers, Steve Warren, put a number of grievances to the board, including the lack of consultation with the parade founders; the perceived commercialisation of the festival; float censorship and the membership structure.

The board gave assurances it was revising a number of aspects of its operation as part of a new three-year plan, including fresh looks at its existing commercial partnerships and a re-evaluation of its membership structure.

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