With the 2020 event celebrating 'What Matters', and more than 100 events being presented across its takeover of the city, it's no surprise the team behind the event are gearing up for yet another huge festival.
“Our phenomenal 2020 festival programme of arts and cultural events features a superb selection of diverse local and global talent,” Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger says. “Traversing themes of inclusion and social justice, as well celebrating the achievements of our community – this year’s programme places the focus on what matters.”
From humble but fierce beginnings in 1978 to now, Mardi Gras has come leaps and bounds in regards to attendance, celebrity guests, programme events and impact on Australian culture.
The 2020 festival's Party is the place to be, thanks to performers including Dua Lipa, Kesha, Sam Smith, and Pabllo Vittar, sure to bring the grooves to the event. It takes place at Hordern Pavilion and has previously seen acts such as Kim Petras, Cher and Kylie Minogue.
Mardi Gras Arts Interim CEO Grant Lowe is sure that the 2020 programme, whether it's Fair Day, the Party, the Parade or the stacks of arts and creative events throughout, illuminates the most important characteristics the event has grown to be known for over the years.
“This year we celebrate those at the forefront of the fight for equality,” Grant says. “From groundbreaking queer artists to trailblazing thought leaders, Mardi Gras 2020 is an opportunity to visit the next destinations on our journey of diversity, inclusion and social justice.”
“We have some phenomenal events lined up at this year’s festival ranging from the spectacularly naughty queer variety show 'F... Fabulous' to our quintessential summertime parties, Pool Party and Kaftan Party and Australia’s largest cast of gender-diverse performers come together in the endlessly entertaining variety show 'Gender Euphoria'.”
“Also new in 2020 is the expansion of the Mardi Gras Hub at the Seymour Centre. The Hub will be home to late-night parties at the Festival Club from Thursday to Sunday, as well as 15 incredible events including inspiring discussions, side-splitting comedy, theatre, music, dance, circus, burlesque and drag.”
Of course, the Parade is an iconic part of the event each year, and Mardi Gras Creative Director Kat Dopper goes on to talk about what audiences can expect in 2020.
“All the different floats will be talking about what matters to them. We're going to see real diversity in the issues that many in our community face, whether it's individuals marching, or organisations that are marching,” Kat says.
“You're going to see the colour, excitement, and probably feel a lot of different emotions as punters, as people who are watching from the sidelines or on TV. It's broadcast live this year, which is super exciting.”
Not only is the Parade broadcast live. . . There will also be live crosses to areas around New South Wales throwing their own Mardi Gras celebrations; adding another layer to the sense of togetherness Mardi Gras aims to embody.
As someone within the queer community, Kat has clear goals in her role as Creative Director.
“It's really, really important that I continue to help to create safe spaces for our community to come together and be themselves,” she explains. "We are a resilient community but we're always fighting for the things that matter to us."
“I also care about providing a platform for really incredible queer talent from around Australia and around the world to showcase art.
“I'm so lucky and so passionate and excited that I can be just one caretaker of this organisation to help move it forward slightly. I love it because I'm getting to think about how we can activate in regional community towns, and how we can connect them back to Mardi Gras.”
Since its inception all those years ago, this huge event has continued to flourish and grow, with no plans of stopping and no intention of delivering an experience any less than completely fabulous.
Toward the end of 2019, it was announced that Sydney would host the iconic WorldPride event in 2023 – which will coincide with that year's Mardi Gras.
“Sydney is one of the biggest night-time parades in the world and we're the largest LGBTQIA+ organisation in the Asia Pacific. What that means is that we're kind of like this umbrella organisation for lots of incredible Prides around Sydney, Australia and Asia.”
An organisation which, Kat says, has stayed on top of its game thanks to an unrelenting desire to connect.
“It has worked with the needs of the community,” she describes. “Consultation is so important for us.”
“It's about listening to our community, finding out what they want, and then creating an arts festival that caters to the needs of that community, which is why it's going to stay relevant.”
What do you do in your day-to-day life?In my day-to-day work life, I am the Creative Director at Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras. So basically, I am pulling together the look and feel of a huge, international event that is beloved by an engaged community of people who often have different views on what the festival should be. It’s amazing to be one of the caretakers of an organisation that means so much to so many people. I am constantly thinking about community, colour and how to showcase the best of LGBTQIA+ artists across many events within the festival and there is really something for everyone.Read more: