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Big new Fringe venues in East End road closure call

Adelaide Fringe organisers have asked for Rundle Road to close for six weeks next year in order to expand the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony to include two new venues of 800 and 1000 seats.

Jul 04, 2023, updated Jul 05, 2023
Adelaide Fringe organisers want to close Rundle Road for six weeks next year to expand the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Adelaide Fringe organisers want to close Rundle Road for six weeks next year to expand the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Adelaide City Council will tonight hear a proposal from Fringe organisers about closing Rundle Road to traffic and street parking from 7 February to 21 March 2024.

Festival organisers hope to spill onto Rundle Road with two extra venues – one 800-seater and one 1000-seater – purpose built to house “unique national and international performances”.

Organisers say that the new venues would host up to four shows a day for 28 days, while closing Rundle Road would allow the Fringe Corner Box Office to move into a central position to “enable greater accessibility for audiences” and “deliver a quiet space and change facility for those with mobility access needs and neuro-divergent audiences”.

Adelaide Fringe director Heather Croall said the venues could stage shows not be feasible in the park lands.

“There’s shows out there that include things like BMX bike riding; things that need hard, flat surfaces,” she said.

“Closing the road just means it’s a lot safer for the number of people that we attract to the East End.”

Photo: Andre Castellucci

Gluttony organiser Daniel Michael said the lack of flat surfaces in Rymill Park meant organisers had to consider other options for larger tents, hence the proposed spill onto Rundle Road.

“There would be opportunities for us to build different structures or bigger structures on that road depending on time, but there’s only so much flat space we’ve got in the park,” he said.

“This is a really great space here. The number of cars that travel down there is actually quite small for a dual carriageway, so the transport people are reasonably comfortable with that as a closure.

“There’s car parks all up and down Rundle, Grenfell, North Terrace – so there’s plenty of parking in the city, we’re not going to run out of car parks during the Fringe, we’re just not going to have them right there out the front of the venues.”

Gluttony. Photo: Helen Page

The Rundle Road route between the East End and Kent Town is used by about 9,500 vehicles a day, while the potential loss of council parking revenue during a six-week closure has been estimated at $76,000.

 

It comes after Gluttony organisers said they would considering charging entry fees in 2024 after the council moved to reinstate a charge for park lands use.

Gluttony’s Daniel Michael told InDaily that the push to close Rundle Road wasn’t related to the increased charges, saying festival organisers first approached the council about the closure “about 18 months ago”.

“Because of the road closure for Ouchhh Studio’s event that was part of Illuminate they just didn’t have an appetite then,” Michael said, noting that the ‘Wisdom of AI Light’ event was precedent for a Rundle Road closure.

Fringe organisers also pointed out that Rundle Road already closed on weekend evenings during the Adelaide Fringe as part of the council’s ‘East End Unleashed’ activation.

“This provides an added level of safety given the significant volume of people within this area on weekend evenings drawn to the two major Fringe venues,” the application said.

“East End Unleashed is a Council activation, created to support vibrancy and safety in the East End during the Adelaide Fringe period each year.

“Rundle Street and other supporting laneways and roads are closed each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, with organised outdoor dining and entertainment occupying the roadways during this time.”

Acting Lord Mayor Phillip Martin said it was his “personal view” that the council should support the road closure.

“The City of Adelaide should do everything it can to support our premier events like Fringe, The Garden and also Gluttony,” he said.

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