Queer Screen will escape the financial dilemma engulfing its parent organisation, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but its activities may be curtailed due to funding shortfalls, the organisation’s president has warned.

Pip Newling told Sydney Star Observer that Queer Screen will absolutely continue even without the financial support of Mardi Gras, but a shorter Mardi Gras Film Festival was one option the board would look at if sufficient funding to offset the Mardi Gras subsidy could not be secured.

Newling reported that Queer Screen broke even for the 2001/2002 financial year, despite a reduced Mardi Gras subsidy -“ which had not even been paid in full.

MG president Julie Regan later confirmed that some $8,000 of the total $30,000 Queer Screen subsidy for 2001/ 2002 was still outstanding.

With our good financial man-agement, we’ve broken even in the last financial year, and that’s with still a debt outstanding from Mardi Gras, Newling said. Despite a tough sponsorship environment, Queer Screen had exceeded its yearly sponsorship budget for the financial year by $10,000, she added.

We are now looking for corporate or community sponsorships separate to Mardi Gras, Newling said. We will still work with them and still negotiate with them about festival issues, and we’ve already had a few preliminary chats about their 25th anniversary next year, which coincides with our 10th anniversary.

Mardi Gras had put a lot of dollars through Queer Screen over the years but Queer Screen was now run as a separate entity, Newling said. Regan said Mardi Gras support for Queer Screen amounted to $500,000 over 10 years.

Despite Mardi Gras publicising their $538,000 end-of-financial-year loss in late June, it was not until several weeks later that Regan confirmed (at a general community meeting called to discuss the MG financial crisis) that there was no provision for Queer Screen in the festival budget for 2003.

It was news at the time to Newling, who until that point had not received confirmation about Mardi Gras support for Queer Screen.

I get the impression that they just hadn’t wanted to say no, Newling told the Star. Maybe that’s because they didn’t know. I would like to think that there will be better communication between the organisations than there has been. We have been working on that.

Regan said the priority for her board had been sorting out Mardi Gras’ financial situation, but stressed that Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival was seen as an important event throughout the season.

Communications [between Mardi Gras and Queer Screen] got a bit caught up in the wash, Regan said.

In the short term, Newling said Queer Screen were preparing for the Queerdoc Festival in September, and were also looking at screening a few films during the Gay Games in November.

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