From 17 February to 5 March, Sydney played host to the first ever WorldPride event to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. With the legendary Mardi Gras parade in its 45th year, Sydney knows how to do rainbow and took the sparkle of the Mardi Gras parade and spread it across three weeks and two hundred events. South Australian production company Novatech got in on the celebrations, bringing four semi-trailers of lighting, video and comms gear inter-state to support three shows in the Domain.
Nations across the globe compete to hold WorldPride, a regular event that promotes LGBTIQ+ issues on a global level. Encompassing parades, festivals and a human rights conference, previous hosts have included London, Toronto, Madrid, and New York. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras beat out Houston and Montreal to win the bid to host WorldPride 2023. Tipped to be the biggest event in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games, injecting an estimated $600M into the economy and enticing half a million people to the seventeen day party, it was in the words of Leko Novakovic, Managing Director of Adelaide’s Novatech Creative Event Technology, “A big deal. A whole organisation runs it on behalf of Sydney, with support from the government, Destination New South Wales, and it attracts some very big sponsors.”
Based in South Australia and founded by brothers Leko and Milenko Novakovic in 2001, event hire and production company Novatech frequently works outside of South Australia, “We got involved in WorldPride through SUBVRT Experience Studio’s Josh Chapman who were producing the three events at the Domain – the opening and closing ceremonies and a dance party. They engaged us to do production supply for the lighting, video and comms; Norwest Group did audio; Mandylights did lighting design, direction and operation; Square Division did the show design, and on opening night, Alex Grierson, Brad Salt, and Pete Lynn from FMTN Inc fulfilled screen producer/switching roles, with Nick Macfie from Production Technologies providing overall Technical Direction.”
The Opening Ceremony ‘Live and Proud’ on the first Friday was hosted by Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Courtney Act and featured British hyperpop star Charli XCX, Australia’s own Jessica Mauboy and the inimitable gay icon Kylie Minogue, international video messages from the likes of Stephen Fry and Jessica Coolidge, and speeches by prominent LGBTIQ+ leaders, all broadcast live by ABC TV and around the world.
On the Sunday, the Domain Dance Party hosted 10,000 at the biggest LGBTIQ+ circuit event Australia had ever seen, featuring DJs Suri, Isis Muretech, Tackthai, Du Jour, Dan Slater and headliner Kelly Rowland, “The first weekend was a big success with huge turnouts on both nights, the OB went well, and Kylie absolutely went off. She had a surprise special guest; the dancers huddled together, used a stage lift and bang! Out comes Dannii Minogue! I was in the crowd and the roar was incredible. Then Kelly Rowland knocked it out of the park at the dance party. There were really good vibes over the whole weekend.”
Gear wise, “We took some big stuff – there was stage left and right IMAG with ROE CB5s, Vanish for the upstage and FOH delay, autocue and stage surtitles screens. We filled four semis and flew in ten people. It was an elaborate set up on the Friday night because of the integration into OB and that’s where Nick Macfie and FMTN Inc came in. Some stuff came out of the truck for OB, some didn’t. FMTN Inc ran disguise to trigger all the content and it was pretty full on. Lighting was significant too – very washy, washy. And we tweaked it again for the Sunday, re-angling everything and putting in a floor package. And comms was a major as well, we had forty Riedel Bolero packs and a bunch of their Smart Panels, with the challenge of integrating to OBs again. Plus Hytera 2-ways into the network for pyro and drone people. It was full on.”
Turns out, not surprisingly this Summer, that the biggest challenge was Sydney’s weather, “We left and it looked fine all week then on the Tuesday just when we’d finished packing in over two brutally hot and humid days, an out of nowhere storm comes and smashes us with seventy mils. I didn’t even pack a jacket but that’s Sydney for you I guess!”
The next two cities to host WorldPride are Washington DC (2025) and Amsterdam (2026).
First published in CX Magazine, April 2023, www.cxnetwork.com.au
Photo credit | Sydney WorldPride, SUBVRT, Gabrielle Clement, Anna Kucera, Daniel Boud, Cain Cooper, Cassandra Hannagan