Leaders of New Mardi Gras and Pride met this week to discuss their future and the possibility of a merger of the two organisations.

The meeting followed a call in July by outgoing New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse for the groups to merge or die.

Although the groups’ executive members ruled out the possibility of a short-term merger, they agreed to establish a closer working relationship and to share resources.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Steph Sands told Sydney Star Observer the meeting was really creative, with the groups discussing sharing resources including office facilities, office staff and pooling the groups’ volunteer base.

Introducing reciprocal membership rights was also discussed.

Pride co-president Lou-Anne Lind told the Star the meeting was constructive and positive, with the groups formulating a discussion paper to present to their membership bases.

I did commit to consultations so that has to happen and both executives agreed to that, Lind said.
At the New Mardi Gras AGM in July, Woodhouse said the community had too many people working to maintain the same small organisations with hefty administrative burdens.

He cited Mardi Gras’ continuing cashflow difficulties and Pride’s recent financial losses as reasons for the groups to join forces.

Following Woodhouse’s comments, both Pride and New Mardi Gras said they would not consider a merger without extensive community consultation.

The groups also resolved this week to develop a memorandum of understanding, expected to be completed within the month.

Co-producing dance parties was not on the agenda. Lind said the differing ways the organisations run their events meant parties were not discussed.

It sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Which is why we stayed away from that particular discussion, she said.

A combined function for the groups’ boards will be held in the next couple of weeks, along with consultation with membership bases.

It was a really positive meeting but obviously it was part of a longer term process, Lind said. I think people were being very sensible.

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