The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the world’s largest gay and lesbian festivals, has secured government funding for the first time in its 30-year history, it was revealed on Wednesday.
The Premier of New South Wales (NSW), the Australian state of which Sydney is capital, said his government had decided to support Mardi Gras because of the contribution it makes to the state’s economy and culture.
“Mardi Gras is one of Sydney’s best-known and iconic events,” Premier Rees told Sydney’s weekly queer magazine SX. “It is a spectacular Sydney event and makes a significant contribution to our state’s economy. It’s become an international showcase of Sydney’s inclusiveness, creativity and diversity, and a celebration shared by the wider community.”
While an exact dollar amount was not revealed, with a commercial confidentiality agreement in place, both NSW Government and Mardi Gras officials said it was a significant amount.
The funds would lead to greater production standards of the Mardi Gras Parade and Party, and would involve national and international advertising campaigns, Mardi Gras CEO Anna McInerney told SX.
The funding announcement marks a complete turnaround in government attitudes towards the event since its inception 30 years ago.
The first Mardi Gras, which was held on June 24, 1978, was targeted by police, who bashed many of the participants, and arrested 53.
Homosexuality was illegal in NSW until 1984.
Today, Mardi Gras is Sydney’s largest annual event, with the parade, party and various festival events drawing up to half a million people annually.