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WITH Sydney preparing for an influx of thousands of visitors for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, excitement is growing with a brand new party aimed at women and gender-diverse people and community groups begin work on their floats for the world-famous parade.

The Mardi Gras workshop, situated at Rosebery, will be in use over the next two months by members of the Mardi Gras creative teams and community groups as they put all the costumes, scenery and props together that make each year’s parade the colourful event for which it is known.

Coinciding with the opening of the workshop, Mardi Gras also has launched its arts initiative to help raise funds for long-term projects such as the establishment of a permanent Mardi Gras workshop.

“In recent years our workshop has been secured at the last possible moment as we move from venue to venue each year, creating instability for both the organisation and the community,” Mardi Gras board associate Michele Bauer said.

“Without a workshop, we don’t have a parade and without a parade there is no Mardi Gras.

“We need a holistically-sustainable creative space to support GLBTQI artists and creatives. Our hope is that the [Mardi Gras Arts initiative] will make this happen.”

One of the biggest changes for the 2014 festival will see the addition of a new party at The Hi-Fi during the official parade after party on Saturday, March 1.

Curated by DJ Sveta and queen of bent burlesque, Lillian Starr, the party will aim to create “a vibing experience”

specifically for women and gender- diverse communities with an all-female DJ lineup that includes Astrix Little, hip- hop party-starter YO! M.A.F.I.A., and the multi-talented Shalyn Gray on decks and drums.

Changes have also been announced to some of the viewing areas for the 2014 parade. The Diamond Club, formerly known as Club Tropicana, will be placed right in the centre of action at Taylor Square, providing an opportunity to share the night’s festivities with celebrities and other VIPs in an outdoor club-style environment.

Meanwhile, what was formerly known as the GlamStand, the Flinders Seats located centrally on Flinders St will allow families and other punters an unobstructed view of the parade while being seated. Ticket prices for The Diamond Club start at $99 for members and The Flinders Seats from $143.

The full program for the 2014 season of the Mardi Gras Film Festival will be launched on January 15 at Event Cinemas on George St during a special screening of the Alan Cumming drama Any Day Now. Some of the films already slated to screen include gay teen comedy G.B.F and the critically- acclaimed feature Concussion.

INFO: For further information on Mardi Gras or to purchase tickets, visit here.

To purchase tickets for The Party, visit here.

To purchase tickets for the Mardi Gras Film Festival, visit Queer Screen.

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