Open letter to Mardi Gras Board questions governance


mardi grad board sydney world pride 2023
Image: SydneyMardiGras/Instgram

An open letter to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board queries decisions pertaining to both Sydney World Pride 2023 and the recent Mardi Gras festival. The letter from ‘Concerned MG members’ questions what it describes as “declining standards of governance by the Board.”

The letter firstly questions the structure in place for Sydney World Pride 2023. It then goes on to address issues arising out of the recent Mardi Gras festival.

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“Before the vote for World Pride, Mardi Gras told everybody to join Inter Pride and vote for Sydney. There was lots of enthusiasm, and people felt involved. Everybody was excited when we won.”

The letter claims since the initial enthusiasm, the Mardi Gras board shared little information about the event beyond “a few cryptic references to ‘a separate organisation’ for World Pride.”

Mardi Gras Board and Sydney World Pride 2023

The letter asks about the organisational structure for World Pride. It questions whether World Pride possesses a separate board or shares the Mardi Gras Board. The authors also query the process around the appointments of both the World Pride interim Chair and the interim CEO.

“Why was an ‘Interim’ CEO even needed given that World Pride is years away?

“Why wasn’t there a public recruitment process for the role?”

Fair Day cameras

“Does the Board do any oversight?” asks the letter, questioning the placement of ‘counting cameras’ at Fair Day.

“Imagine the impact on LGBTQI refugees and people afraid of telling their families (such as queer Moslems) when they saw the cameras? The claim on Mardi Gras’ website that the devices did not employ face recognition software lacks credibility. But more importantly, why weren’t people told beforehand about the cameras?”

The Mardi Gras Party

“Secondly, there was the disastrous Party. Why did the Board decide to sell 10,000 tickets when the venue for the headline acts only took 5,000? People bought tickets to see the headline acts, not to stand in queues for hours and miss out anyway.”

The letter describes the response of the Mardi Gras Board to concerns about the party as ‘weak’.

“If the Board already knew that the RHI couldn’t be used why were so many tickets sold? No wonder that Fair Trading is investigating and there is talk of a class action.

“Is it any surprise that the community thinks Mardi Gras has lost its way and only cares about revenue?”

While recognising that Mardi Gras board members serve voluntarily, the authors point out that accepting positions on it entails accepting  “incumbent responsibilities, including high levels of accountability to members.”

Lack of communication

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“The lack of communication or proactive reporting from the Board to members on just about anything gives the impression that the Board are not fully across their roles or the issues. The lack of communication also gives the impression that the Board are not interested in the community, with members feeling they are peripheral to business. The Party fiasco has also brought Mardi Gras’ reputation into disrepute. What an insult to the 78ers.

“There is growing anger, disappointment and cynicism from members and the community who are tired of the secrecy, nepotism and lack of accountability of the Board.

“You need to act now.”

Call for Mardi Gras board to resign

“We call on the entire Board to resign, and for new elections to be held. Assuming resistance to this, as a minimum response and as a demonstration of good faith, Kate Wickett should resign from the Board. It is hard to fathom why the Board would ignore the inherent conflict of interest in a person being both an employee (even if World Pride is “separate”) and a Mardi Gras Board member. This is beyond poor judgement.”

QNews has sought comment from the Mardi Gras Board.

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