Hello everyone,

For those I haven’t met, my name is Albert and I started as the CEO of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in January. I hope you are all keeping well and that you have friends and family around you in this trying time.
This is my first email to you all – and I apologise it’s a long one. If you don’t make it to the end, then I want to draw your attention to the section on the upcoming community consultation events, where we are looking for your thoughts on how Mardi Gras can support the community in the time of COVID-19.

Community Survey Results

As you would be aware, we put out a survey to you and the broader community earlier in the year to gauge your thoughts on the future of Mardi Gras. I will share the results in detail at the community consultation, but for your interest, here are some of the standout findings:
While the Parade is the most important event in the calendar, the majority of you (60%) believe Mardi Gras should have a year-round presence.
Mardi Gras’ events are where people find community and the permission to express themselves authentically.
Nearly a third of people surveyed (32%), didn’t know they could become a member of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
People are interested in attending more talks (20%), more dance parties (27%) and more charity balls (18%) outside the Mardi Gras season.
There is so much more to share, but it’s clear to me the community want Mardi Gras to have a more year-round presence, to support more events and charities and continue to be an organisation known for fostering community and self-expression. It’s also clear that there’s more that we can do to drive awareness of the Mardi Gras as an organisation and deliver more benefits to members that will in turn see our membership swell.
However, since taking up my CEO role in January and since we put out the survey, the world is a very different place. We have been plunged into a world of social distancing, virtual catch-ups and tight restrictions on travel and gatherings – which brings me to my next point…

Seeking your help at the upcoming community consultations

As the end to 2020 draws near, it’s time to look towards 2021 and the new season of Mardi Gras events. Many of you are asking us – what’s possible now during COVID-19 restrictions? In this challenging and ever-changing environment, planning for events and festivals is more difficult. What I can tell you, is that together with our stakeholders our team is working hard to try and bring you a vibrant festival for February and March.
There may be some changes to the Festival we know and love, but whatever they are, nothing should stop us from taking pause to celebrate diversity and take pride in who we are.
We would also love your help and ideas. For those interested, I invite you to our next community consultation events and share your ideas for how Mardi Gras could offer greater value to members and the community in the COVID-age. Perhaps this could take the form of virtual celebrations or local micro-pride events – we’re open to all ideas. Bring your creativity. At these community forums we will also share our survey results.
There are two Community Consultation dates for Mardi Gras members, each are an hour long and are happening via Zoom:

BOOK HERE for 6pm Wednesday 23 September
BOOK HERE for 10am Saturday 26 September

Organisational updates

It’s been a busy time at Mardi Gras HQ. Since the start of the year we have been busy getting the house in order, making sure our operations are transparent, cost-effective and really geared toward the needs of our community, our partners and importantly to you – our members.
We have reviewed our Privacy Policy, our security policy, our IT systems, our conflicts of interest policies, our HR policies, our Code of Conduct and are even developing our first Ethics Charter, which will guide how the Mardi Gras approaches business and directs its funding. I hope this news gives you confidence that Mardi Gras is acting responsibly, with integrity and is rigorously protecting the data and privacy of its members. While we are only a small organisation, our duty to our staff and our members is no smaller than that of the largest organisation in Australia, which is how we have approached the refresh of all our policies.
I will have more to say on our Ethics Charter in the coming months, but in the meantime, if you would ever like to know more about our corporate governance or any of our policies, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us via reception@mardigrasarts.org.au.

Corporate sponsorship

Lastly, I just wanted to touch on some concerns that have been raised in relation to the Mardi Gras’ sponsorship arrangements. From our survey data, we know 63% of the community don’t have an issue with our current sponsors – but 18% do.

There’s no doubt that sponsor-support greatly enables us to put on the events and activities that have seen the Mardi Gras become a world icon. However, there are concerns to be addressed. As I mentioned earlier, we are currently developing an Ethics Charter, which will guide our interactions with sponsors and ensure that any arrangement meets the expectation of the LGBTQI+ community.
We will also be holding a sponsor roundtable to better understand how sponsors can support our community at the grassroots and contribute to better outcomes for LGBTQI+ people, whether in the workplace or in the streets.

There will be more updates to share in the coming months, and I will keep you all in the loop.
I will hopefully see you at the community consultation events. In the meantime, stay well and stay safe.
Kind regards

Albert Kruger