The organisation behind Australia’s largest gay and lesbian film festival is currently without employees after Queer Screen made drastic cuts to keep the organisation running.
Mardi Gras Film Festival director Lex Lindsay remains a consultant for Queer Screen one day a week, while general manager Jain Moralee has taken a three-month contract with Screen Australia. Another employee’s contract with Queer Screen ended in March and was not renewed.
The organisation will also downsize this year’s QueerDoc festival and the regional festivals it assists around the country.
Queer Screen president Monica Considine told the Star Observer that although ticket sales for Queer Screen events had been decreasing over the last five years, the biggest issue had been a reduction in funding and erratic corporate sponsorships.
“The environment which we work in has changed radically in the last two years,” Considine said.
“Government funding for film festivals has reduced, whether that’s Arts NSW or Events NSW or the City of Sydney, and with commercial sponsorship, sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.
“We’re changing the organisation so it can operate on two levels, so when the sponsorship is there we can do a big festival and when it’s not, we can downscale so we don’t run into debt.
“We’re going to become a more volunteer-based organisation with working groups, like New Mardi Gras.
“At the moment … we don’t have year-round volunteers involved in curatorial work or administration and that’s what we’re trying to do so we have a volunteer base we can fall back on in years where sponsorship doesn’t come in and we can’t afford to have staff do those things year round.”
The organisation will run its annual donations drive this month with a target of $50,000.
“Last year’s festival broke even but we have some debt from previous years that we need to clear,” Considine said.
Lindsay said becoming a Queer Screen member remained a great way to support the organisation and was a bargain at $22.
“We will still produce one of the world’s biggest gay and lesbian film festivals in February and membership is another way to direct funds to our overhead costs, which is where we need the money the most,” he said.
“Our events pay for themselves in box office but to have a healthy company that is running throughout the year, we need that membership money and donations as well.”