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Fringe boss backs Royal Croquet Club

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Fringe director Greg Clarke has backed The Royal Croquet Club following an attack on the venue by Lord Mayor elect Martin Haese.

Clarke said the Victoria Square-based venue would have the same transformational impact on the surrounding area as the Garden of Unearthly Delights has on the East End, where restaurants, pubs and cafes are regularly jam-packed with Fringe patrons.

Haese, who is sworn in tomorrow, has raised deep concerns about the venue and its impact on “bricks and mortar” businesses in the area.

Clarke said he was confident Haese would change his mind once he was fully briefed on the venue’s 2015 plans.

“We’ve spent the whole year, the Fringe, working with the Adelaide City Council, to really ensure that it’s a Fringe venue with lots and lots of Fringe artists and that’s exactly what it’s going to be,” Clarke told radio FIVEaa breakfast today.

“So I kind of want to say to everyone just wait, wait and see what it’s going to be like because I can guarantee there is so much on there of live entertainment.

“Everyone’s thinking ‘oh it’s just going to be a bar again’. It really isn’t – I can assure you it is not. I have the facts.”

Clarke’s comments came after Haese repeated his pre-election concerns over the club, suggesting that it posed an unfair threat to surrounding businesses, and was just a “giant bar”.

Clarke responded to these concerns, saying next year’s Royal Croquet Club intended to expand both in space and in the number and scope of Fringe show offerings.

“174,000 tickets are for sale to Fringe shows in the Royal Croquet Club,” Clarke said.

“That’s incredible, that’s getting up there very similar to The Garden (of Unearthly Delights).

“You’ve got a hundred artists, you’ve got 769 individual performance sessions – it’s triple what it was last year. I can’t say it enough that this is going to be a really exciting performance Fringe venue.”

Royal Croquet Club founder Stuart Duckworth told InDaily that the venue’s plans to expand for next year’s Fringe would see an increase in space – not capacity.

“The capacity this year was 5000 people,” he said. “The capacity of the application for next year is 5000 people. The reason we need more space is because there is a lot of feedback given by interested third parties, and also council, to increase the Fringe offering.

“To be able to appease this notion that we are a pop-up bar or just a bar in activation, in order to do that, to have all these performers, we need more space.”

Duckworth also responded to suggestions that the club was just a bar, and not a community event.

“To claim that we’re just a big bar would be also encompassing all the machinations of the Fringe, such as Lola’s Pergola and Barrio in that statement,” Duckworth said.

“We’re much much more than just a bar – it’s a community hub.”

InDaily understands Haese wants to meet with Duckworth to discuss the space, and to find a balance between the temporary club and surrounding businesses.

Haese has repeatedly refused requests by InDaily for an interview since we published Duckworth’s concerns about the future of his venue last Wednesday.

Clarke said today Haese would be “singing a different tune” once he was briefed on the Royal Croquet Club.

“Look what happened in the East End with the Garden – all those businesses and restaurants in Rundle Street they make a packet during Fringe,” he said.

“That’s exactly what’s going to happen around Gouger Street, Grote Street.

“Everyone’s going to want to go out for dinner and then go into the Croquet Club and see a Fringe show.

“It’s the same format that’s worked in the East End and it can work in Victoria Square.”

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