Midsumma Bows To Pressure

Statement released by Midsumma ends News Corp Deal: no advertising, but editorial collaboration will continue

Under pressure from community orgs including Vic Leather

Rainbow Families Vic responds


Midsumma Festival Board have released the following statement in response to community concerns, including ours, regarding the continued use of News Corp as a sponsor.

We have had several conversations with Midsumma over the past few days detailing our rainbow families communities concerns. We told them that a line had been crossed, that it was utterly inappropriate to accept News Corp as a sponsor, that we believed Midsumma Festival must develop an ethical corporate sponsorship policy for future events and that we intend to a) not to participate in Carnival and b) make sure at Pride March that we not only celebrated our diversity, our resilience, our families and our successes of 2016 but also will stand up against the continued News Corp attacks on our LGBTIQ communities.

To that end the response below does address many of our concerns. We want you to know that we have informed Midsumma Festival today that regardless of the actions they have now taken – as per the statement below – Rainbow Families Victoria will still march at Pride March on January 29 with the aim of calling out the continued News Corp vililfication of our LGBTI communities.

We ask you to join us and invite your ideas on how we do this (think placards, badges, slogans – get creative and email us ! There were many more points made in our discussions with Midsumma Festival and we will detail them in a longer Rainbow Families Victoria response later today. We congratulate the fantastic community advocacy groups and individuals we engaged with over the past week or so for their respectful and sometimes difficult discussions on this issue – we appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.

We also thank all of you who communicated your ideas and concerns to us over the past few weeks. Finally we wish to thank the Midsumma Board for listening, and acting, on the concerns we, and many other groups, expressed to them.

And in other news – save the date for our Rainbow Families Picnic in collaboration with Drummond Street Services – Sunday 12 February 2017 – a celebration of our resilience and our advocacy. Details to come.


“As many of you know, the Midsumma team have faced significant criticism about a pre-existing partnership with Herald Sun/News Corp in recent weeks,” the statement from Midsumma reads.

“We continue to be committed to the community and their views and have been listening wholeheartedly to the concerns being raised whilst trying to juggle complex issues around the partnership. We have attempted to engage through robust consultation as we sought to achieve the best results for our communities and our organization from within an extremely difficult situation. Our survey asking for views went out to 5,000 people and we engaged directly in deeper phone conversations with a range of organisations identified as impacted upon by the issues involved.”

“We had hoped the advertising provided by this media partnership could be leveraged to provide opportunities that enabled increased positive Midsumma LGBTQIA+ presence as a unified and enduring community, in an often-unfriendly media environment.”

“Through consultation with our stakeholders the majority supported a continuation of the partnership for this year’s Festival, which concludes on 5 February. We are however now acutely aware that continued community concerns are threatening to fracture our communities in potentially destructive ways.”

“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.”

“We have come to the conclusion that we simply cannot allow this issue to detract from the positive focus that should be on LGBTIQ+, artists and community groups at this time, with such an diverse range of creative, innovative and inspirational events about to take place across the three weeks of Midsumma 2017.”

“Now in full festival delivery mode for the 2017 Festival with already acutely stretched resources, we are still facing heart-breaking pressure about the issue, through a multitude of public and private channels.”

“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. 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.”

“We are a small team trying to do big things for a large and very diverse community, in a world that feels significantly more difficult for us all as we head into 2017. We all need some summer relief despite the challenges, and we implore you to dive into the program of fabulous events, great art and amazing spaces created by and for your LGBTQIA+ communities for Midsumma Festival 2017.”

“We thank you for your continued support.”


the stirrer understands that Midsumma will still work with the journalists and editors to ensure editorial coverage of the festival – they’re only dropping the advertising component.


Before Midsumma released the above, Vic Leather also weighed in.

The Midsumma festival is one of VicLeather’s favourite times of year. However, for the upcoming year (2017) we will not be running a stall at Midsumma Carnival as a response to the Midsumma Board keeping News Corp on as a Gold sponsor. After the way News Corp publications have attacked the Safe Schools program and other parts of the LGBTQIA+ Community in articles and commentary in the Herald Sun and other Leader publications, the standing Committee does not believe that we should be contributing money to Midsumma for 2017. The values of News Corp and VicLeather are not aligned.

We will, however, be marching in Pride March as visibility within the greater community is an intrinsic part of VicLeather’s goals. We are proud to wear our Leather, We are proud to create safe space for our leather community members to march with us, as Pride March is a celebration and is a political act in and of itself. The Leather community has often been the mortar to help others stand strong in the LGBTQIA+ Community and helping them feel safe. From Leather to Drag and all in between.

If you are interested in marching with us at Pride March, Please email us at info@vicleather.org.au.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)