Hello everyone. Welcome everyone to Redfern and the new, New Mardi Gras Community Workshop. I'd like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present.
For many people, getting ready for the Mardi Gras Parade is as important and exciting as the Parade itself.
There's the excitement of coming up with imaginative, colourful and outrageous ideas for floats and costumes, and there is the challenge of bringing those ideas to fruition. Being able to do it with others, and strengthening and making friends in the process, is all part of the joy and fun of Mardi Gras.
Having a space where you can do this, where you can try things out and get help and advice is crucial. I am pleased that the City could make this building available for use as the 2011 Mardi Gras Community Workshop.
This is the latest instance of the City putting its properties to work for the community, until their permanent use is decided.
- Reverse Garbage and COFA are now using the former T2 in Darlinghurst, while we develop plans for its future use as a community and cycling hub;
- Queen Street Studios are managing Heffron Hall as a creative rehearsal space, while Council determines its long term future use; and
- Another City owned building at 90 Regent Street, Redfern will be used by the Oasis Youth Support Network Program to run a residential program for young people.
The opportunity for the City to purchase this building when it came on the market was too good to pass up. Its location, on Redfern Street, makes it an ideal future site for a community facility, such as a library. In the mean time, we will make it available for community use through our Accommodation Grants Program.
Community, cultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations will be invited to submit proposals for using the building, and, as with all our grant programs, these applications will be assessed on merit. This process will ensure the outcome is fair and equitable.
It also takes some time, so we are delighted that New Mardi Gras could use this space while it is underway.
It also enables the City to recognise the significant contribution which Mardi Gras makes to Sydney's reputation as a welcoming, diverse and tolerant city.
In June 2006, Council formally recognised Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as a major festival, along with the Sydney Festival, the Sydney Writers Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, the Biennale of Sydney and Australia Day and in 2009 we renewed your triennial funding. This guarantees you $150,000 for 2011 and 2012
I am proud of my own association with Mardi Gras over the past 25 years.
I've judged the fabulous costumes and I've been a Parade judge. I remember doing that judging standing on an awning in Taylor Square watching the floats come up Oxford Street - at a time when one was allowed to stand on awnings!
In 1992, I joined in the Parade as the first member of the Legislative Assembly to do so. It is now a highlight of my yearâ€”nothing matches the experience - along with opening Doggiewood during Mardi Gras Fair Day.
Last year I raised the Rainbow Flag over Town Hall for the first time, to mark the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. I look forward to repeating this next month, and firmly establishing the flag raising as an annual event.
But with opening of this workshop, Mardi Gras is coming early for me this year.
It gives me great pleasure to declare the New Mardi Gras community workshop open and ready for creativity, enthusiasm and hard work.