The flood & the fallout: One-on-one with Playground Weekender

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At the tail-end of every summer since 2007, I’ve joined the convoy headed to Del Rio Resort for Playground Weekender. There are many indelible memories from those five Weekenders: Laurent Garnier closing out the first one, Steve Bug under the stars at the Drunken Duck, Orbital’s legendary live show, all the afternoon sets in the scorching sun…and, of course, that rare Playground ‘vibe’.

The events of 2012, however, won’t be going in the festival’s highlights reel. Two days out from the party, the NSW State Emergency Services and Police forced a cancellation at risk of “major flooding”. As Playground Weekender wrote in a statement last week, all the artists were in town and the site was ready to go. In the weeks since, promoter Andy Rigby has made no secret of the company’s dire situation. In short, the festival was “not covered for natural disasters” and the money doesn’t exist to refund all ticket-buyers. The response sent to those who booked a cabin on-site is similarly uncertain: “Playground Weekender is in financial difficulties and we are trying to recoup as much of the cash we had spent on the event to prevent Playground Festivals Pty Ltd from going in to administration.”

Several questions are now being asked of Playground Weekender, the most persistent being: why was the festival not insured for natural disasters? Following his statement that there’s unlikely to be a “positive end” to the flood fallout, I spoke to Rigby about what’s next.

Where did the last-minute cancellation leave stall owners and cabin holders?
The problem is at the moment is that we’ve paid out for the festival to happen. 36 hours before the event is the most critical, no turning back period for the festival. We’d paid for all the production, we’d paid for the artists, they were all here. The company itself is in a really tough position. It doesn’t have the resources just to return the money to everyone, which is the position we’ve been faced with. This year’s festival was probably going to be okay. We’d shrunk it down from a structural perspective, brought the cost down, and just scaled back to be safe in a tough festival environment. And then this happened.

We’re not interested at this time in saving the festival for 2013. We’re just trying to get the best possible result back for the punters.

Can you tell me about the insurance situation.
This is the worst part of it all. We don’t have the right insurance to cover this. You could call it poorly calculated: we had other forms of insurance, but the main focus is of course flooding. You make your own assessments from that. We looked at the dam levels, and everything was looking okay.

It’s also harder to get that insurance after what happened with the Queensland floods last year. Sitting here now, I wish we’d gone over hell and high water to change that. And it was a calculated risk that went wrong. There were reasons why we weren’t [insured for floods].

Comments

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walkdogz

walkdogz said on the 19th Mar, 2012

His answer to the flood insurance question(s) is very vague. He fucked up, he knows it. Feel sorry for him, but ultimately, a stupid decision to save $ esp given the recent erratic summer weather.

legless

legless said on the 19th Mar, 2012

http://i.imgur.com/3CH08.jpg

legal-affairs

legal-affairs said on the 19th Mar, 2012


But the erratic summer weather is precisely the reason that it is likely to be very expensive to obtain a policy which would respond to economic loss caused by cancellation in the event of flood, if you could obtain such a policy at all. Economic loss is more difficult/expensive to insure against than property damage, and getting flood insurance for an event held on a flood plain? This is unlikely to be the sort of insurance you can get as an off-the-shelf product.

block man

block man said on the 19th Mar, 2012

The T&Cs state: %u201CIn the case of an Event cancellation, refunds will be provided to patrons who have purchased tickets for the cancelled Event.%u201D So, is breach of contract an issue as well?

YOU OWE ME $550 FOR THE MOORING OF MY BOAT AND $300 FOR MY TIX AND MEMBERSHIP

soma

soma said on the 19th Mar, 2012

You know what - props to Rigby and the Playground team for being able to put together the three replacement shows in such an unbelievably short timeframe, an impressive achievement for any event organiser. Props to him again for giving this interview and trying to be as open as possible about what is taking place behind the scenes. Understandably punters are angry and demanding refunds, which they are entitled to, but the emotional and financial stress this guy must be under right now is immense and I could not imagine many promoters handling it with the same calm headedness and openness as he has.

Wet Cardboard

Wet Cardboard said on the 20th Mar, 2012

Those replacement gigs were a heroic effort.

SANDSHREW

SANDSHREW said on the 20th Mar, 2012

I THINK YOU'LL LIKE BANANAS.
ESPECIALLY THE WHITE PARTS.

Dubz

Dubz said on the 20th Mar, 2012

Great interview Jack - you kept hammering him on the key points. Ok so he still tried to wriggle out but it's clear that in regards to why there was no flood insurance the answer is bascially "I'm a retard and wanted to maximise my profits, d'doh!".

girders

girders said on the 20th Mar, 2012

If you were to ask most festival promoters around the country, you would actually find out that most don't have insurance which is kinda scary

fresh555

fresh555 said on the 20th Mar, 2012

I doubt many other promoters would even give an interview / explanation if they were in the same situation, guy clearly fucked up, shame it means the end of one of the few good festivals left in Australia.

Balls Deep

Balls Deep said on the 20th Mar, 2012

Lets not forget Mr. Rigby could have boarded a flight and left this whole horrible mess and legged it. Takes a character to stick it out and face the music.

oliversphotos

oliversphotos said on the 20th Mar, 2012

I hope he comes out stronger on the side, and this doesn't leave the dude broken. We all fuck up. It'd be a shame for the dude after trying so hard for the last 6 years, to just throw in the towel completely.

jahbrother

jahbrother said on the 21st Mar, 2012

Getting screwed around by PayPal, your credit card company, green tix?
These guys want to hear from you:
http://www.consumersransom.com/au/2012/03/19/playground-weekender-cancellation-where-are-the-refunds/

benjiswan

benjiswan said on the 22nd Mar, 2012

I'd wager hardly any festivals have weather/force majeure insurance. That sort of insurance is so INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE. As a small festival that lives off very small margins, taking out that insurance could be the difference between making and losing money.

joshforrest

joshforrest said on the 22nd Mar, 2012

he's being completely honest at least...... If it were myself organising the festival i probably wouldnt have opted for flood insurance either. Its flooded like once it the past 15 years out there. Dam levels were looking fine 3 weeks out. It was really just that one huge storm cell that took warragama from 80% to overflowing in a week and a half that did it. Rotten Luck for everyone. What can anyone take from this. SHIT HAPPENS.....

mlucinda

mlucinda said on the 23rd Mar, 2012

La Nina: One v Rigby: Nil
Bummer

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