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Designed to Shine: Behind the Scenes of our Sydney Mardi Gras Partnership

As the official Design Partner of Sydney Mardi Gras, we reflect on how we brought a unique partnership to life using the power of visual communication.


With the 44th Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras coming to a close, we wanted to share a behind the scenes look at how we unleashed the power of visual communication to bring our unique and creative partnership to life.

As the official Design Partner of Sydney Mardi Gras, we’ve been thrilled to partner with the organizers of this world-leading event as well as the incredible community it brings together. It’s been the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how proud we are as a company to celebrate the beauty of diversity and the importance of inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace. As a celebration of diversity, expression and identity, nothing beats the creative power of Sydney Mardi Gras, and we’re proud to bring our combination of product and partnership support to help make this special Australian event a success.

Diversity and inclusion are core tenets for us at Canva, and the natural alignment of our values was a big part of our partnership with Sydney Mardi Gras. As a company on a mission to be a force for good in the world, our most impactful partnerships always involve a shared vision of what we want to accomplish and shared values on how we operate.

Sparking creativity

With any partnership, we want our product to drive value for our partners and their communities. For Sydney Mardi Gras, we created a suite of templates bringing to life this year’s theme of UNITED WE SHINE.

Whether you’re looking to create an Instagram post, a custom Zoom background or even a tote bag, there’s a template for everyone to share your pride, your way. It’s been pleasing to see our templates enthusiastically embraced to celebrate a cause we care deeply about.

Giving back to the community

Fair Day is a landmark of the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival where the LGBTQIA+ communities come together to kick off the celebrations, and this year, we were excited to unveil the Canva ‘Drag and Drop Studio’ made in collaboration with Melbourne-based artist Callum Preston and our experiential partner Amplify. It proved to be one of the most popular stalls on the day.

The talented Karen from Finance and Jack from House of Silky played host, welcoming hundreds of revelers through the doors to have their picture taken. For each picture, we donated $20 to our nonprofit partner, Out for Australia, an organization that champions authenticity in the workplace, empowering Australia’s LGBTQIA+ students and young professionals to thrive, raising a total of $20,000.

Celebrating Pride

The Mardi Gras Parade is the marquee celebration and for the first time ever, forty Canvanauts joined more than 5,800 marchers across hundreds of floats. The Sydney Cricket Ground was awash in a vibrant display of pride and self-expression with a crowd of more than 40,000 spectators soaking up the electric atmosphere.

Our Parade costumes had extra flair to them being designed by Brendan de la Hay, a renowned performance artist, fashion and costume designer.

Brendan used Canva to create a digital mood board to bring his colorful and creative ideas to life.

We also planned plenty of events, activities and surprises (in the office and virtually so the team outside Sydney could also join) to celebrate Pride Week. From an ‘Out at Work’ panel discussing workplace inclusion to Drag Bingo and Trivia as well as a T-shirt design workshop hosted by Brendan de la Hay, there was something for everyone to get involved and to celebrate our amazing LGBTQIA+ community.

Spreading the love

With Sydney being the home of Mardi Gras for nearly half a century, it felt fitting for us to take over transport sites, billboards and digital screens around the city to celebrate our pride. Over four weeks, we rolled out an OOH campaign inspired by the tagline of Design with Pride, shining a light on diversity and inclusion and raising awareness of our partnership with Sydney Mardi Gras.

With Sydney Mardi Gras a wrap, it’s now time to focus our attention on Sydney WorldPride 2023 with which we’ve also struck a multi-year partnership. It’ll be the first time WorldPride has been held in the southern hemisphere and it’s fair to say both the anticipation and excitement are high. We’re excited to take our many learnings from this partnership to WorldPride as we continue on our mission of championing diversity and empowering the world to bring their creativity to life.

If you’re interested in partnering with us we’d love to chat. Drop us a line at [email protected]