Sydney Pride will not hold its annual New Year’s Eve Pride dance party this year due to financial problems.

In its place an event is being organised by Sydney Leather Pride in conjunction with Harbour City Bears and New Mardi Gras. Titled Fantasy, the party will be held in Fox Studios where the Pride party usually takes place.

Sydney Pride co-president Janine Tennille said the organisation was in no position to outlay funds for a party that might not make money.

We simply don’t have the funds to stage a party of that scale.

However, the organisation was in no danger of bankruptcy, she said.

No, we’re fine. We’ve got enough funds to last us a number of years just running a community centre. We’re doing okay -“ so long as we’re not having any major parties.

Despite the New Year’s Eve party traditionally serving as Pride’s biggest annual fundraiser, last year’s party cost approximately $200,000 to stage and lost about $15,000 on door takings.

The organisation has experienced serious financial concerns during the past few years and has undertaken a number of cost-cutting exercises to stay afloat. These included moving the Pride Centre premises from Surry Hills to Erskineville and retrenching the organisation’s general manager.

The cost-cutting measures followed a horror period for Pride, in which it posted an operating loss of $130,486 for the 2003/ 2004 financial year.

Pride’s New Year’s Eve party was once one of the biggest on the gay party calendar; 10,000 tickets were sold to its millennium event but numbers have fallen drastically since. Just 1,900 people attended last year’s party.

Tennille said Sydney Pride would focus on staging smaller fundraising events in the future.

We’re currently in discussion with a couple of different places to possibly hold something in November, she said.

We may still do something on New Year’s Eve, but it won’t be a large party. It might be something completely different. We’re tossing up a number of ideas at the moment.

She said she was very pleased a gay and lesbian party would still be held at Fox Studios on New Year’s Eve.

Sydney Leather Pride is a fantastic group who will be providing a great party for the community. We couldn’t be happier they’re taking over, she told Sydney Star Observer.

A spokesperson for Sydney Leather Pride said Fantasy would be held in the Dome, Stage 11 and an outdoor venue, and that organisers expected somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 revellers to attend.

Sydney Leather Pride is footing the bill for the party, while New Mardi Gras and Harbour City Bears will offer support in the form of access to membership lists, volunteers and workshops -“ but neither will be contributing funds.

Twenty percent of the money raised from the party will go to Mardi Gras and 10 percent to Harbour City Bears.

New Mardi Gras is both pleased and excited to be joining forces with Sydney Leather Pride and Harbour City Bears to deliver to our community a unique New Year’s Eve experience, New Mardi Gras chair Marcus Bourget said.

Murray Mills, Harbour City Bears president, said he was also excited to be part of an inter-group community-based party for New Year’s Eve.

Here is an opportunity to get an event together, not just for our own members, but the wider community as well, to help drop the barriers we all sometimes put up due to image and labels, to encourage all parts of our community to come together and celebrate. Mills said.

Tickets for Fantasy will go on sale on 26 September.

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