Sydney's Mardi Gras saved

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 30 2002 11:00 PM ET

Gay groups in Sydney struck a deal with creditors on Monday to pay off the debts of the city's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and save the world-renowned street festival, according to Agence France-Presse.

Under the rescue package, a coalition of four Sydney groups has taken over the Mardi Gras business and will sell off the assets--including props and costumes--to repay $350,000 ($190,000 U.S.) out of a total debt of $500,000. Volunteers will replace salaried staff as organizers of next year's fair, and fund-raising events will be held to finance the asset sales, said Michael Woodhouse, cochairman of the new Mardi Gras. The first fund-raiser, the annual Sleaze Ball, is slated to take place this weekend.

The 25-year-old Mardi Gras started as a gay rights protest march but evolved into a massive street festival that attracts more than 120,000 visitors and brings Sydney business worth tens of millions of dollars each year.