Criticism of this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has lead the organisation that produces it to launch a widespread consultation process on the future and objectives of the parade.After complaints about refusing parade entry to Animal Liberation and its over-commercialisation, the chief executive of New Mardi Gras, Michael Rolik, is encouraging debate on whom the parade is meant for, how it should be funded and how to create a more relevant, entertaining and engaging event.In an open letter in February, Mr Rolik said there was a discrepancy between some people’s view of what Mardi Gras should be about and the reality of the organisation’s constitution and business model.”Let’s look at its purpose, composition and funding and work towards a clear statement (or restatement) of our objectives and values,” he wrote. ”By doing this we’d go a long way to ensuring Mardi Gras’ relevance into the future.”Now New Mardi Gras is acting on his hopes, seeking views from the community.In just a week, the organisation has received hundreds of submissions and online comments to the six main topics: the purpose, participation, what’s working, what’s not, improvements and funding.Online debates have raged about issues including greater quality control of floats, the length and time of the parade and the need to keep issues such as politics and equality on the agenda.Mr Rolik said there had been consultation in the 33 years of the event, but not for some time.”It’s their event, but there’s no use just having a bitch; we actually do want constructive ideas and there’s a lot of great ideas out there,” he said.Submissions will be published online and in July there will a night of debate.www.mardigras.org.au/itsyourparade
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