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Announcement of new Mardi Gras board brings to end divisive elections
Aug24

Announcement of new Mardi Gras board brings to end divisive elections

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 28 August 2014 09:30 Written by // Reg Domingo

The new board of directors of Sydney Mardi Gras has been revealed.

They are Damien Hodgkinson, Fran Bowron, Darren Bruce, James Brechney, Paul Savage, Brandon Bear, Greg Small and Michele Bauer.

Missing out on a spot were Timothy Nicholls, Craig Richards and Michael Douglas. Another candidate, Wayne Martin, withdrew from the race.

A total of 572 votes were cast in the 2014 elections. Of these, 459 were made electronically and 42 by proxy. Seventy one people voted in person at the annual general meeting.

The announcement of the outcome brings to an end one of the most heated and divisive board election campaigns in Sydney Mardi Gras history.

During the AGM on Saturday, several candidates expressed their dismay over the vicious nature of the campaign period, which they say was characterised by online bullying, personal attacks and allegations of corrupt behaviour.

Tensions were further exacerbated after it emerged false applications for memberships were made in the lead up to the election.

Some called for the election to be deferred so that a thorough audit of the membership could be carried out.

The election eventually took place as announced, but not before people in the broader community taking to social media to air their perspectives and grievances.

At the AGM, members voted to introduce two-year terms.

Half of the board will retire in 2015, chosen by a ballot, and their positions will become open for nominations.

BELOW: Read the board members' official pre-election statements. Use the arrows to scroll left or right

  • Damienhodgkinson

    DAMIAN HODGKINSON

    The most long lasting traditions need to evolve in order to remain relevant and sustainable. To affect this at Mardi Gras, change will need to happen at all levels, beginning with the leadership. Only then can the hard decisions that need to be made: refocusing the organization on its core activities, parade fair day and festival, while supporting its fundraising events. Fixed staff and administrative overhead have increased over the last 5 years – which has restricted the ability to react quickly, while pushing ticket prices up.

    We can create a leaner, more accessible Mardi Gras without compromising quality. It’s also possible to grow our membership base, and attract more young members. Mardi Gras Arts presents a great opportunity to lower our membership fees and allow people to donate to specific events they wish to support such as parade workshop and festival. Giving people this choice will create a greater sense of ownership. In have a strong track record in changing community organizations to make them financially sustainable without damaging their core values. I have been a director of Bobby Goldsmith Foundation for 5 years helping them achieve this goal, and have been treasurer of Mardi Gras since May this year, giving me a first hand view of the potential success we could achieve.
  • Franbowron

    FRAN BOWRON

    Mardi Gras needs to make money this year and we have a plan in place to achieve that. We need to make a profit so that we are no longer talking just about money and start having a different conversation. A conversation about what we’ll do next. About how to address the changing needs of our members, communities and audiences. For that we need vision, strength in leadership and a board that will make some hard decisions. I am a current Board director and over the last year have been directly involved in establishing several community-driven working groups – the driving force of the essential transformation work the organisation has started in order to change the model and hence, the conversation.

    My professional background is in governance of large scale government change programs and aligning outcomes with organisational strategic objectives. I have a Masters of Technology Management and am completing a Masters of Human Rights Law and Policy. I look forward to continuing to contribute to a Board that values diversity, financial sustainability, transparency, member and volunteer engagement and enables community voices to directly contribute to the strategic direction and ongoing conversation of our organisation.
  • darrenbruce

    DARREN BRUCE

    I have been actively involved with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras since 2006 in a range of volunteer roles working with the Parade and Volunteers teams. I have been a Director since February 2014.

    As Chair of the Board’s People and Culture Committee since September 2013, I have drawn on my professional experience to deliver results in people management. Our committee is creating a better workplace culture through ‘I-CARE’, protecting people’s wellbeing with a suite of new anti-bullying and harassment policies, creating a safer workplace through new methods of managing WHS, and ensuring that volunteer voices are heard and have input into organisational strategy. If elected, I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that SGLMG is a great place to volunteer and to work.

    The financial results of recent years have been unacceptable. Even when the organisation has turned a profit, the cost of that profit on the wellbeing of our volunteers and staff has been high and the reputations of our products have been damaged. That’s not OK. As an organisation, we need to work smarter in an increasingly competitive market and deliver events that will ensure Mardi Gras remains in the lives of a new generation for all the right reasons. If elected, I will continue the work already underway to reform all facets the organisation and build a contemporary, profitable and relevant non-profit business.
  • jamesbrechney

    JAMES BRECHNEY

    It’s been very disappointing to see the recent results of SGLMG.

    ‘There is only one party’ was a campaign waged against venues on Oxford Street that support our community 365 days a year. Mardi Gras’ silence over the fast tracked lockout laws that hit Oxford Street but not Party was also noticed. I’d like to see a more inclusive attitude in the future. Reversing the direction of the Parade and ending the night with a Castro style block party involving all venues would be incredible. Live national TV coverage of the Parade is an absolute must.

    I’ve had previous Board experience as Programming Director of Northshore’s FM99.3 and previously as Vice President (Secretary) of the Australian Law Students Association. I’m the breakfast host and this year’s Mardi Gras Live co-host on OX Live. I’m a passionate Surry Hills local and ran my first float in this year’s Parade. In 15 months my LGBTQI rights movement, DIY Rainbow, has built a Facebook presence of over 57,000 fans.

    I believe this experience gives me a unique insight into what’s been going wrong and what’s been done right at SGLMG. It’s time for some fresh eyes. I hope to get your support.
  • paul-savage

    PAUL SAVAGE

    Over the last 4 years I have held a number of positions with SGLMG and been Co-Chair of the Board for the last 12 months. I have played an instrumental role in developing the strategy to drive the future sustainability of the organisation. We have taken a measured approach to profitability and ensured our financial reserves are secure whilst investing in quality events to build the returns for the future. We must continue to build strong patronage through events that are high quality, relevant and engaging for our broader community supported by engaged volunteers.

    I am committed to ensuring that we remain focused on our important and colourful history whilst planning for and embracing our future. We must achieve relevance for a diverse community and to do this we must deliver diversity across our events and with a focus on members and communities that is flexible and not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. I have helped achieve this in leading efforts to embrace our entire community in the last 12 months. I lead the Change consulting practice at a global consulting company and believe I am well placed to continue to help lead the organisation on its transformation journey.
  • Brandon-Bear

    BRANDON BEAR

    Mardi Gras’ future relies on long term fiscal responsibility, increased membership and transparent and honest community engagement. Through my eight years experience with the organisation, including leadership roles in the Community Engagement aspect of Parade and a season as a Board Associate I have seen the impact made when the organisation reaches out to our communities to fully understand issues and concerns and will take my passion for community engagement into a Director’s position.

    I have a strong understanding of governance roles, having been the board chairperson for two community organisations during my ten years working in training and youth engagement, and I will bring these skills to the board to ensure that decisions are made which support a profitable organisation with long term stability. The 2015 Board needs to think about the future of the organisation, and as such, if elected I will push heavily for the Mardi Gras to work towards increasing membership, especially for young people, in order to create a strong and active base of support for the future. My experience and understanding of the organisation and my commitment to the a sustainable future of excellence for Mardi Gras make me an ideal candidate for director.
  • GregSmall

    GREG SMALL

    Mardi Gras is about celebrating the diversity. I have the utmost respect for our volunteers and staff and I love this organisation. I have been an active SGLMG supporter for many years and previously served as a Director. I successfully chaired the Finance Committee in 2012-2013 helping to bring financial discipline and rigour needed to return the organisation to profit. I know the effort required to make SGLMG profitable. I want to ensure that the organisation remains financially viable as well as remain the premier LGBTQI event. I have strong community ties, and understand the political, community and volunteer nature of the business. I am a team player dedicated to ensuring the success of SGLMG and its events.

    I am keen to assist the organisation in maintaining our strong ties with Destination NSW, the State Government and the City of Sydney. I have a strong management background with financial accountabilities. I understand the principles of event management and have experience in producing events and managing the finances and risks associated with event management. I encourage our members to get involved and start to demand the change so desperately needed by SGLMG and to hold people accountable for actions and outcomes.
  • michele-bauer

    MICHELE BAUER

    I have been actively involved with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras since 2006 in a range of volunteer roles working with the Parade and Volunteers teams. I have been a Director since February 2014.

    As Chair of the Board’s People and Culture Committee since September 2013, I have drawn on my professional experience to deliver results in people management. Our committee is creating a better workplace culture through ‘I-CARE’, protecting people’s wellbeing with a suite of new anti-bullying and harassment policies, creating a safer workplace through new methods of managing WHS, and ensuring that volunteer voices are heard and have input into organisational strategy. If elected, I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that SGLMG is a great place to volunteer and to work.

    The financial results of recent years have been unacceptable. Even when the organisation has turned a profit, the cost of that profit on the wellbeing of our volunteers and staff has been high and the reputations of our products have been damaged. That’s not OK. As an organisation, we need to work smarter in an increasingly competitive market and deliver events that will ensure Mardi Gras remains in the lives of a new generation for all the right reasons. If elected, I will continue the work already underway to reform all facets the organisation and build a contemporary, profitable and relevant non-profit business.
    The Candidate has agreed to abide by the Candidate Guidelines for the 2014 Election of Directors

    The past 2 years spent first as a Board Associate and then as a Board Member of Mardi Gras Arts and then of SGLMG, has been challenging, educational and rewarding in equal parts. Due to this experience, especially MGA, and my expertise and skill set, I think I am well placed to help take SGLMG into its next phase of growth.

    Part of this growth is becoming holistically sustainable – socially, culturally, environmentally and financially. That means acknowledging and accounting for: our history; our volunteers and our whole community; our impact and contribution to our greater community and surroundings; and our monetary health. However, we must do these things whilst never losing sight of why the organisation exists. We need to fully understand and focus on what kind of organisation we are, what our strengths are and our vision for a better future.

    Ongoing sponsorship, DGR status, our volunteers and strong partnerships, all provide SGLMG a strong base to begin to build the future. However there is still much more work to be done; such as greater gender, identification, age and culturally diverse involvement. My demonstrable commitment and energy, coupled with my arts and cultural experience enables me to work towards a long term, holistically sustainable Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

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Reg Domingo

Reg Domingo

Reg Domingo is the editor of SX.

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