“We don’t feel this is the end. The whole idea of coming out with it publicly is to discuss it, and make sure everyone knows we’re not hiding away from any decisions we’ve made, and we’re not blaming anyone for the decisions we’ve made.” That’s Stuart Duckworth, who heads events company The Social Creative with Tom Skipper.
As reported yesterday, The Social Creative, which is behind Royal Croquet Club, Alpine Winter Village and Good Fortune Market, has gone into voluntary administration, placing the future of all three in doubt.
The company lost $1.1 million after a disappointing turnout for its Royal Adelaide Club at the Qingdao International Beer Festival in China last year. As InDaily reported, the event was part of a bid by Adelaide City Council to encourage investment and tourism.
But despite a projected turnout of 50,000 daily visitors to the Qingdao site, the reality was closer to 700 people per day. For The Social Creative this was compounded by poor turnout at last year’s Good Fortune Market – a food and entertainment hub held during OzAsia Festival – due to storms and the state-wide blackout in October.
Speaking to Broadsheet yesterday, Duckworth says the losses in China were so great the company couldn’t continue operating as usual. “It sort of set the ball rolling for a culmination of things where we could no longer service (our) debt,” he says.
Duckworth says that while he feels this year's Royal Croquet Club – the first held on the Riverbank since moving from Victoria Square – was a success, it wasn’t enough to solve the company’s financial problems.
“It was a great success, but [as] with any new activation, it cost a lot more money,” Duckworth says. “It was a harder site to use because it was a brand new space … much like anything, we needed to break it in, which incurs more cost. So it was a very successful activation, but if you dovetail that with the poor trading at the event in China and inclement weather at other events, it’s not enough to continue on.”
So what does this mean for the future of Royal Croquet Club, those who have worked with the business in the past, and those who are still owed?
“I can’t tell you for certain what’s going to happen, moving forward,” Duckworth says. “But having said that, I am confident, because of the amount of support we’ve had, that we’ll find a solution to be a part of the Fringe again. Our priority right now is talking with creditors and satisfying their needs, before we think about what’s next for our needs.
“The point we’ve got to is, we need to talk about it, address it, before we move forward. As part of that we’re looking toward next year, because we really care about the Fringe and we really believe in the Fringe.”
And the group’s newer winter and spring events?
“It’s up to others at this stage,” Duckworth says. “Alpine Winter Village, we’re in discussions with Renewal SA to look at doing that activation again, but I can’t comment on whether that will or won’t go ahead. We’ve definitely put the offer out there and are hoping so. As far as Good Fortune goes, we’re in talks with OzAsia to deliver that event again, or we were, prior to today. We’ll have to see how that plays out.
“The whole idea of this process (voluntary administration) is to resolve the issue at hand and then be able to trade more events.”
Duckworth says the current situation is limited to the events company, and won’t affect his other projects, which include the Crown and Anchor and its adjacent site (formerly Superfish).
“It’s been up and down the last 12 months, but I guess the last two months have been the hardest I’ve been through … but I’m still alive and there’s people a lot worse off.
“We’re really distraught at the situation (and) we’re just saying this is where we’re at at the moment, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to work through it.”