Having said our piece as producers about the Sydney Mardi Gras rebranding, we thought it was important to ask the artists performing in blackcat lounge what they thought about the issue and how they felt about their participation in the festival.
Many may have read Brendan Maclean‘s speech from the Mardi Gras launch, in which he expresses his views on the branding.
ali hughes, frontwoman of ali & the thieves, feels that “Mardi Gras is more than a brand. I don’t know why people are getting so hung up on the ‘brand’ aspect of it. The brand can never really define the movement or the history, but it can give a reference point to people wanting to connect with the movement and history, just like our own names. My name is ‘ali’, which is not an uncommon name, but my name doesn’t define who i am, nor that i am the same as or part of all the other ‘alis’. It just offers you something to identify me by. If I change my name it doesn’t change who I am. It just makes it harder for you to remember which email address i am using 🙂 I don’t feel that, by rebranding, Mardi Gras has any less connection to its movement or its history.”
“Having said all of this, however, the simplicity of the two connecting hearts in the new logo brings an element of ‘love’ to the mardi gras ‘brand’ which the old logo just wasn’t able to convey. I like that.”
As a marketing professional, our graphic designer, Shell Horn, had a unique perspective. “To me, the new ‘Sydney Mardi Gras’ logo alone is not the problem,” she said. “Rebranding is a great way for brands to keep their image updated but as long as the meaning behind the Mardi Gras is still portrayed, I cannot see the harm.”
“I understand that ‘Gay and Lesbian’ is not inclusive of the diversity within the GLBTQI community and the logo needed to be updated to represent this. However, there still needs to be a strong message to acknowledge to the purpose of Mardi Gras in Australia.”
Belinda Crawford, singer in Lady Sings it Better, said “I do not identify as ‘gay and/or lesbian’, but I do identify as queer. On the face of it, I have, by choice, a heterosexual relationship. To ‘society’ my relationship is ‘normal’. Underneath, I am bi and have a non-monogomous, kinky relationship. People who know all of these things, including my friends, judge me.
I value the struggle for sexual freedom made by the queer community who made Mardi Gras what it is. I appreciate that the rebranding will upset some of those people. To me, Mardi Gras will always be for the GLBTQI community and this title in the name is secondary. However, I do think the new logo is trying too hard to make the festival main stream.”
We’ll keep sharing our artists’ views about this issue in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be posting interviews and articles about the shows and musicians involved on Cabaret Confessional, who’ve agreed to feature blackcat lounge in the lead up to the festival.
What do you think about the branding and about Mardi Gras’ future? We’d love to hear what you think.