The decision has ruffled some feathers but officials promise that next year will be different (Image Source: ABC News)
By Viki Ntafillis | @viki_ntaf
The Royal Croquet Club (RCC) will return to the University of Adelaide (UOA) for 2020, much to the frustration of staff and students.
The controversial decision follows a university survey showing the student body was split on RCC’s return.
“We got over 2000 student responses and found that a lot of concerns were due to disruption to people’s education,” Ali Amin, President of the Adelaide University Student Representative Council (SRC), said.
“Many issues have been mitigated or resolved, so next year RCC will be quite different.
“We [the SRC] have had months of consultation and meetings with the university, and are quite comfortable with having the RCC come back to the university next year.”
Some of the improvements include limiting performances on the Maths Lawns to Friday evenings and weekends, as well as a ban on sound checks before 4pm every day.
“We’ve also worked to improve student benefits and provide a range of opportunities to get involved in the arts…such as employment, internships, study and student clubs,” Mr Amin said.
“We want the event to be more in partnership with students, rather than just an external body coming here.
“It’s an opportunity for students to engage with the broader community and with a range of different arts organisations in Adelaide.
“We think it’s a positive development for our campus culture: something Adelaide University is well known for.”
Mr Amin also said RCC would not interfere with the running of O-Week.
“The Student Union and the SRC are quite satisfied with what O-week will look like next year,” he said.
RCC Artistic Director David Sefton said the company is “delighted to be back”, after 2019 saw 230,000 attendees and 80,000 sign-ups for the UOA staff, student, and alumni scheme.
“It was a big, bold move for the university to open up their site,” Mr Sefton said.
When asked about the complaints made by students, Mr Sefton said the RCC was working tirelessly to iron out those issues.
“We have adjusted everything according to student concerns from last time, but we will keep listening, talking and tweaking,” he said.
“It’s a huge learning curve when you do something on this scale from the first time. What we learnt from year one will be translated into year two.
“We will still be using the Barr Smith lawns but we are changing the configurations to break up the crowd, where they go, and what they want to do.
“We’re also trying to accelerate the release of shows and names so that they are out before the end of the calendar year for students before they disappear.”
Mr Sefton also said the RCC’s involvement with O-Week actually benefited the university.
“Last year, students had a bigger space for O-Week than the year before, and we ended up working with them,” he said.
“We had facilities for them that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“Everything happened quite late for 2019, so there was a sense that the students weren’t really involved.
“The university has acknowledged this because those students have been involved completely and actively in discussions about what happens moving forward, and a lot of nervousness and unknowns have been addressed.”
An ABC report found noise to be a major issue for the RCC this year, with at least six formal noise complaints, and disruption of PhD test results due to vibrations shaking sensitive science equipment.
Along with incidents of illegal smoking, urination and public defecation on campus, the RCC was so disruptive that roughly 100 students wrote to the lead act “Pussy Riot” pleading with them not to perform.
Despite this, RCC Fringe won numerous awards for its shows, especially in the first week of the festival, earning BankSA’s Best Cabaret, BankSA’s Best Circus & Physical Theatre, and BankSA’s Pick of the Week.