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"It's gone gangbusters": Govt shrugs off Fringe fracas

Adelaide Festival

Arts minister Jack Snelling has shrugged off the controversy surrounding the Adelaide Fringe, declaring the event has “gone gangbusters” with record attendances.

InDaily revealed this week a groundswell of dissatisfaction with the festival – and its audiences – from visiting artists including comedians Alexis Dubus and Brendon Burns, who declared on his Facebook page that “the city as a whole has had it too good for too long and really needs an attitude adjustment”.

But Snelling shrugged off the controversy, telling parliament in response to a Dorothy Dixer yesterday: “As the Adelaide Festival of Arts and the Adelaide Fringe draw to a close this weekend, I am pleased to inform the house that both events are set to record huge audiences.”

“The Adelaide Fringe under new director Heather Croall has gone gangbusters, with record numbers flocking to the opening parade and other events, including the stunning illuminations that lit up North Terrace for the first two weeks.

“With over 400 venues and 1,000 events this year’s festival has been the biggest yet.”

Earlier this week, Snelling refused to respond to InDaily’s requests for comment on the Fringe fracas.

But he was ebullient in parliament, declaring that “while there has been some discussion about the size of the Fringe, I am pleased to inform the house they are on track to hit their target of selling 550,000 tickets, indicating that Adelaide crowds are anything but complacent or lazy”.

“That being said, I know the team has taken on board some of the criticism levelled at the Fringe and will strive to find ways to provide more support to venues and artists as it plans for 2017,” he said.

He was also effusive about Writers’ Week and the Adelaide Festival, which “kicked off with a bang at the iconic Adelaide Oval”, although he was “pleased to note that, despite the incredible fireworks display, the grandstand did not catch fire and the scoreboard is still standing”.

“Not only are these events great experiences for South Australians, they are also economically important with around one-third of our audiences coming from interstate and overseas [and] injecting millions into our state’s economy,” Snelling said.

Snelling’s bottom-line justification, though, may not resonate with frustrated artists, who have bemoaned the shifting culture of the once-niche cultural fixture.

Artist Fee Plumley, who has been running Hammocktime at Gluttony, yesterday wrote on Facebook that “the constant push for growth is an extremely negative one for ANY festival, artist, organisation and audience member”.

“Time to get serious and fight for what matters in life, and sorry, but that ain’t profits,” she wrote.

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