The Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre has been hit twice in as many weeks with the global financial downturn, losing up to $25,000 in corporate sponsorship.

Mercedes-Benz, a major supporter, has pulled out of sponsoring Short and Girly, citing the global financial crisis.

The Short and Girly Comedy Show is an annual fundraising event with an all-female line-up. Last year Rachel Berger hosted and performers included Cal Wilson, Denise Scott, Claire Hooper and Judith Lucy. It netted more than $10,000 for the VAC.

VAC fundraising coordinator Carloyn Warren said, although the loss of Mercedes would put a large dent in fundraising coffers, it was hoped another company or group of community businesses would come to the VAC’s assistance.

Warren said the VAC still retains a strong relationship with Mercedes. The company has donated a van to transport Positive Living Centre members to social events and medical appointments.

-œThere is a relationship there and I think, when they have that funding back, they’ll be able to support us again. I just don’t know how long that will go on for, she said.

Warren said despite the sponsorship blow, Short and Girly would go ahead.

-œI guess the difference is, if we get sponsorship, it’s a fundraising event. If we don’t get sponsorship, it ends up being just a community event, so we put a lot of work into it and we don’t really make any money.

The Mercedes blow comes after Slave Auction organiser Paul Evans pulled out of running the 20-year-old event after ongoing difficulties securing sponsorship from Scooterama. The event raised over $12,000 annually for the VAC.

Since Evans’ decision, The Laird Hotel said it will host an event in Slave Auction’s place.

Money raised at both events go directly to VAC projects such as the David Williams Fund which provides emergency financial relief for people living with HIV.

The fund relies solely on fundraisers, and losing more than $20,000 will affect the number of applications for assistance the fund can honour.

The sponsorship downturn the VAC faces taps into fears about the survival of other queer events around the state, such as Pride March, ChillOut and Midsumma which are mostly reliant on financial sponorship.

Midsumma Festival general mananger Adam Lowe said the Midsumma Festival was still in good shape, with IBM likely to continue corporate support, however, he said times are tough for all community groups.

-œI think it’s going to be a challenging financial climate, Lowe said of 2010.

-œI don’t expect any lack of commitment [from sponsors] for Midsumma …our ability to deliver in 2010 an event commensurate with 2009 festival remains unchanged.

info: Businesses wanting to sponsor VAC can contact Carolyn at [email protected]

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