Midsumma's News Corp deal over
Midsumma has announced it will not go ahead with the sponsorship deal with Herald Sun/News Corp due to community criticism of the sponsorship deal.
In an announcement this morning, Midsumma said ‘the Midsumma team have faced significant criticism about a pre-existing partnership with Herald Sun/News Corp in recent weeks.”
The criticism was raised some weeks ago by Victorian LGBTIQ community members who were outraged that the Festival would partner with the media organisation who many believe has often published opinion articles which vilify the LGBTIQ community and in the past 12 months mounted a sustained attack on the Safe Schools program.
“On-going and relentless reaction to this issue is affecting not only our team but the 130 + artist and community groups who make up our open access festival and who utilise it as their main platform each year to express themselves, celebrate and share their voices and stories.”
They said the issue is detracting “from the positive focus that should be on LGBTIQ+, artists and community groups at this time.”
They also said that while “pulling out of this year’s Herald Sun agreement would be extremely difficult for Midsumma at this time..in light of continued concerns expressed to us we have however decided that we will now not be taking up any of the advertising benefits of the partnership offered by the Herald Sun to us for the 2017 Festival under this sponsorship.”
It was also announced Herald Sun will not be marching at Midsumma Pride March or holding a stall at Carnival in 2017.
“It is important to note that there is no money attached to the agreement. A full review of all partnership outcomes and value alignment is already planned and will be undertaken after the 2017 festival.”
Michael Barnett co-convenor of Jewish LGBTI group, Aleph Melbourne, was one of the first to raise public awareness of the partnership. As a result, Aleph withdrew from marching in Pride March.
Mr Barnett told MCV he welcomed the decision by Midsumma:
“I welcome Midsumma distancing themselves from the sponsorship with News Corp and look forward to Midsumma rebuilding its connection to the whole LGBTIQ community,” he said.
Mr Barnett also added:
“A message of regret for the damage caused to the community would be welcomed from Midsumma with a further message stating that what News Corp does to our community is unacceptable. Also I hope that News Corp can realign its priorities to not target our community.
“Aleph Melbourne will review its position in marching in Pride March pending any public statement from Midsumma regarding the above.”
Midsumma also said they had hoped the advertising provided by the media partnership could have leveraged opportunities “which enabled increased positive Midsumma LGBTQIA+ presence as a unified and enduring community, in an often-unfriendly media environment.”
And while they found via consultation with stakeholders the majority supported a continuation of the partnership for this year’s Festival, they were now "acutely aware continued community concerns are threatening to fracture our communities in potentially destructive ways."