Truth, Lies and Rumours: One on One with Playground Weekender

For the last five years Sydney-siders have summoned their fading festival spits, donned ridiculous accoutrements and partied the summer away at Playground Weekender. For many dedicated attendees, warm nights dancing wildly, even warmer days bobbing around in murky waters and an eclectic lineup of artists made the annual pilgrimage to Del Rio Resort unmissable.

This year however, with cars packed and costumes already hired, festival attendees were told 24 hours out from the event that Playground 2012 was cancelled due to risk of “major flooding”. Since then the situation has only worsened for both festival organisers and ticket holders alike, with promoter Andy Rigby revealing that the event was was “not covered for natural disasters” and the money doesn’t exist to refund all ticket-buyers.

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.

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].

Next page