The end of Mardi Gras parade?
New Mardi Gras chair Marcus Bourget signalled the end of the Mardi Gras parade in its current form, in light of a damning social and economic impact statement stamping the parade “unsustainable”.
The study, commissioned by New Mardi Gras for the Premier’s Department, concluded that Mardi Gras was responsible for bringing $46 million into the NSW economy, despite insufficient support from governments.
Bourget said it was one of his greatest frustrations that “we are still unable to share in the millions of dollars we generate for the state”.
He acknowledged that Mardi Gras had a great relationship with City of Sydney Council and received some support from the Premier’s Department, but said it paled in comparison to what Mardi Gras generated for the economy.
“When you ask anyone who is not familiar with Australia what they know of this country, they say the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and Mardi Gras – that is the status it has,” he said.
“It is incredible that it is not recognised at a more significant level by the state, and is not supported more.”
With governments allegedly under-funding Mardi Gras, community members have been asked to fork out $150 for initial release tickets to the 2008 Mardi Gras party.
Speaking at the launch of the 2008 Mardi Gras festival guide last week, Bourget asked attendees if they could imagine a Mardi Gras that commemorated 1978, without the parade.
“Does Fair Day become our community’s mark of remembrance? Or do we strip back the parade to its essential core – a protest?” he said.
“A march without floats, without music and without crowds, but a march for ourselves, our friends, our families, our kids, our community.”
With the theme for the 2008 Mardi Gras Brave New Worlds, Bourget asked the community to be brave in considering what they wanted their Mardi Gras to be.
“The parade means so many different things to different types of people,” Bourget told Sydney Star Observer.
“If you are a 78er it has that political element to it. If you are a younger gay person it can be a signifier of the massive party.
“This issue has been brewing in the community for a few years, and it’s a really important discussion we have to have.”
The suggestion that the parade becomes a commemorative walk along Oxford St was well received, Bourget said, but talks now needed to focus on the nature of the protest.
“We are discriminated against currently, but with the change of the Federal Government and bipartisan support for the HREOC recommendations, those issues may drop off,” he said.
“So the reason why people would march or walk up the street needs to be clearly articulated.
“Is it going to be a celebration, an act of remembrance of those who have come before us, or is it going to be a protest?”