The organiser of popular Fringe venue, the Royal Croquet Club, is seeking a meeting with new Lord Mayor Martin Haese to assure the future of his enterprise.
The club, which has recently announced a foray into Melbourne, was heavily criticised by Haese during the council election campaign for its effect on local “bricks and mortar” businesses.
Stuart Duckworth, who is also the brains behind the East End bar and eatery Little Miss Miami and the Crab Shack (formerly Little Miss Mexico), said that the Royal Croquet Club had brought to life former Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood’s vision of making Victoria Square a thriving asset for the city.
When asked about Yarwood’s term in office, Duckworth told InDaily that the they had shared similar goals in trying to move the city forward.
“I think he supported our events from the notion that it activated the city, and it used Victoria Square to the best of its abilities, which was his project,” Duckworth said.
“He was definitely the driving force behind the redevelopment of Victoria Square, he was very proud of the event that we were able to put on – so from that perspective, yeah we had a great relationship with Stephen.”
The event’s success prompted a return to next year’s Fringe, as well as a move interstate to Melbourne spanning the Australian Open tennis as well as the Australia Day long weekend.
The move to Melbourne has been met with open arms, according to Duckworth, however here in Adelaide its potential return to the Fringe festival has created tensions.
Duckworth has been meeting with council and licensing authorities in an attempt to negotiate agreements regarding next year’s Royal Croquet Club.
Much of the resistance is being voiced from “bricks and mortar” businesses and individuals who believe the Fringe activation impedes on established traders – a claim that Duckworth believes is founded upon a misunderstanding of what he is trying to achieve with the Royal Croquet Club.
He’s also going to need to convince the new Lord Mayor, who has voiced concerns about the effect of food trucks and the Royal Croquet Club on city businesses.
“They come in and take the cream off the cake; we need to find a balance for it to be more of a community event,” Haese said during the campaign.
Duckworth responded: “Of course a statement like that concerns me”.
He’s hoping to meet with Haese directly and explain the venue in detail.
“The fact that maybe Martin making comments such as that, would make me think that he doesn’t have all the facts put to him of what the activation is about, what it does to this state, what we are all about and what we can offer in the years to come,” he said.
“Whilst that comment concerns me initially, I’d love the opportunity to get in the room with Martin and explain the concept in further depth, and explain why we are approaching it the way we have, making sure that we can have a great act which increases the positive aspects and reduces the negative aspects regarding its impacts on surrounding business and neighbourhoods.”
He said his venture was simply an extension of the kinds of Fringe activities that happen in the East End, with spin-offs for nearby venues and businesses.
“The general public’s perception is that the Fringe is what happens in the East End, but the Fringe happens throughout the city, and the Royal Croquet Club is designed to demonstrate the Fringe is a lot more than just the East End, it can be a lot more with the rest of the city,” Duckworth said.
“The whole idea of the Royal Croquet Club being the centre of the city is to support the other venues which surround our area.
“Venues such the Grote Street theatres, the Angus Street theatres, and all other licensed venues around that area, which if given time and if we were allowed to continue, will experience the benefits, just like the East End did.”
InDaily has sought comment from Haese.
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