AN events management company that went bust owing Perth Fringe artists $200,000 was the subject of a string of complaints stretching back to last year’s festival.
Fringe World organised the overall festival, and confirmed to the Voice this week that it cancelled the last week of one of this year’s shows at Noodle Palace following a large range of complaints from artists and punters about JumpClimb.
A Fringe World spokesperson told the Voice there were complaints about JumpClimb dating back to last year.
“In 2017 the Festival received complaints regarding Fringe shows at Noodle Palace being compromised when audiences who had paid to see shows couldn’t get to them due to Noodle Palace party crowds being over-capacity,” the spokesperson said.
“Formal warning was shared with JumpClimb management about these issues at the time.”
The problems continued at this year’s Fringe.
“FW formally removed Noodle Palace from the Festival before its final week, after the Festival received a large range of complaints from artists and patrons about Noodle Palace that indicated mismanagement of the site and events was leading to compromised patron and artist safety,” the spokesperson said.
The Voice understands artists weren’t happy that the Noodle Palace events were effectively a big piss- up, and not arty enough to be considered “Fringe”.
Organisers say the festival is “open access”, like the Edinburgh Fringe and others worldwide, and any venue or independent producer can present a program.
JumpClimb directors Aaron Rutter and Paul Fletcher didn’t respond to our questions, but on April 27 they posted on the company’s Facebook page:
“After 7 years creating, running and promoting events for the people of Perth, it is with great sadness we announce JumpClimb will be closing its doors. Unfortunately, a combination of factors including a downturn in ticket sales on recent projects, debtors going into receivership and the general economic slow-down, has led to a financial predicament wherein it is no longer viable or responsible we continue to operate.”
Any criticisms of the company posted were quickly deleted by the page administrator, and by Tuesday May 1 they’d removed both their Facebook and Twitter accounts, following a tsunami of negative comments.
Fringe World had a contract with JumpClimb to manage some parts of the festival, including the Noodle Palace venue at Elizabeth Quay. In March it transferred proceeds from ticket sales to JumpClimb to pay artists, but in a letter to performers said it believed close to $200,000 didn’t get passed on.
Artists left out of pocket include Adelaide magician Matt Tarant, who is owed $30,000, and lighting specialist Michael Algeri, who is owed $25,000.
JumpClimb, who were based on Beaufort Street for some years, also ran the Beauvine Food and Wine Festival, which was acquired by other operators in 2017, and they ran the Beaufort Street Festival, until it was discontinued after the 2015 event.
by DAVID BELL
EVEN before JumpClimb went bust and left many artists out of pocket, a few performers had raised concerns about the Fringe World model.
Most are happy: A Fringe survey reveals “86 per cent of artists were satisfied with their experience in 2017”.
But some of this year’s performers were complaining about low ticket sales, disorganised management and too many acts diluting the quality of the festival.
Fringe World, a not-for-profit registered charity, said the collapse of events management company JumpClimb had not put the future of the festival in doubt and that box office receipts rose from $9.3 million in 2016 to $10.2 million in 2017.
A report last year by FW stated that they had kept the same number of shows as 2016 to avoid “market saturation” and to “increase the chance for all shows in the festival to better perform”.
As for artists burned by JumpClimb’s closure, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance said they’d “work with the voluntary administrator on behalf of artists to ensure contracts are respected and artists are paid”.
FW is meanwhile issuing all affected artists “an information pack prepared by our legal sponsor K&L Gates that includes a pro-forma letter of demand that they can issue to Noodle Palace Pty. Ltd and Jump Climb Pty. Ltd”.
The FW website already has dates lined up for the 2019 festival, and event registration is slated to open in July.