The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is moving the parade from the streets of Sydney to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in response to the Covid-19 restrictions put in place in Australia.
Unlike in New Zealand where the Rainbow Pride Auckland parade will be going ahead as per normal down the streets of Ponsonby on February 20, the Sydney event will have a capacity of just 23,000 audience members, instead of the usual 300,000 on Oxford Street, that will watch on as community groups parade around and around the oval.
Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said the safety of parade participants, spectators and the community at large is paramount.
“Mardi Gras has always been the epitome of creative expression through art and culture; two things severely impacted by COVID-19 this year,” Kruger said.
“So it was important to Mardi Gras that we rise to the occasion and to give the community the creative platform to express their pride to the world. The 2021 Parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times.
“The team at Mardi Gras have worked tirelessly with NSW Health to develop a COVID Safe event plan to ensure the Parade can go forward and we’re excited by the prospect of staging the event at the SCG. Not only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street, but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event and meet requirements of physical distancing and contact tracing.
After the most recent Mardi Gras celebrations, the organisation executed a comprehensive community consultation process to better understand how the LGBTQI+ community would like to see Mardi Gras represent them in the future. The outcome of this process has formed a new vision, ‘Always On’, that will see Mardi Gras develop year-round initiatives to provide a platform for LGBTQI+ people, community groups and partners to celebrate, share experiences and provide support, no matter where they are.
“With a greater focus on community, our 2021 Parade will move away from large floats, centring instead on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props that make it such a phenomenon to witness,” Kruger said.
“While we are well known for our main annual event in Sydney, our surveying of the community has shown us that we can be so much more than a parade our vision of Always On will see us rise to community expectations and provide year-round opportunities for the LGBTQI+ community to have their voices heard.
“Always On will see us commission and support the development of queer performance and content, support more events beyond Oxford Street, extend our voice to highlight social injustice and support major campaigns, and support community and grassroots organisations year-round.”
Mardi Gras are also working with NSW Health on a number of different COVID-safe plans to stage additional events, like the popular Fair Day, in 2021. Updates on the progress of this planning will be provided in the coming weeks.
Tickets for the live Parade spectacle go on sale, Monday 9 November here. Mardi Gras members will receive two complimentary tickets to the Parade event.